Churches of Miller County

Tuscumbia Presbyterian Church
Researched by Joe Pryor
 Old Tuscumbia Presbyterian Church

The Presbyterian Church of Tuscumbia was organized by Reverend Robert Morrison and fourteen lay members including William H. Hauenstein (Junior) as elder and L.N. Musser as deacon. The church house was constructed in 1888 and dedicated November 10, 1889 by B.H. Charles D.D. of Fulton, Missouri. According to Gerald Schulz, who was a professor at the old Iberia Academy in the earlier part of the last century, the total cost of the building was $1317.24, not including the lot, which was given by David Marshall, I.I. Johnson, and the Grand Master of the A.F. and A. M. Lodge of Missouri. According to Clyde Lee Jenkins' History of Miller County, Reverend Morrison also started a Presbyterian church at Aurora Springs in 1884. The Tuscumbia church grew and prospered during the late 1800's and well into the twentieth century, but dwindling attendance in the 1970's caused the Presbytery to close the church and sadly it now is in a state of disrepair.

The church faces the southwest from fairly high on the side of the large hill around which Tuscumbia was built and looks down on the winding Osage River which meanders its way to the northeast toward the Missouri River.

Similar to many churches of that era, the Presbyterian Church had a large 720 pound bell which was rung every Sunday morning to announce the beginning of the worship service. The belfry was directly above the entry chamber at the front of the auditorium and was reached by a stairway off to the side. I remember as a child Byron Hix, one of the elders and my Sunday school teacher, letting me pull the rope which rang the bell. The rope was very big, thick and strong (although I imagine it was very old as well) and the bell too heavy for me to get it to swing back and forth. Byron would have to get it started but I would have to hold on for dear life because I wasn't heavy enough to stay on the floor and the rope would pull me up off my feet and then set me back down again as it oscillated back and forth above me. I remember the rich deep sound of the bell ring which seemed to make vibrate the rafters and walls of the small belfry room. Byron was the banker at the Bank of Tuscumbia, which at that time, was located just a few feet away from the church across the street. The church bell was rung for the last time at the 1976 Bicentennial celebration at noon, on July 4th by Frank Martin and grandchildren John Martin Fields and Rebecca Sue Fields.

Ida (Hauenstein) Hix, Byron's wife, played the piano for hymn singing for most of the last fifty years the church existed. She was an accomplished pianist and in her house up on the hill above the church, I remember the unusually large piano she had at home. This piano is now on display in the museum. Janet, Byron and Ida's daughter, has drawn some nice graphic replicas of the church as it was in those days.

The front of the church behind the pulpit was highlighted by huge stained glass windows featuring the image of Jesus extending his hands out as if he were beckoning the worshipers to come to Him. On either side of the image of Jesus in two separate stained glass windows, were angels facing Him. The windows along the side walls of the church were engraved and arched at the top. The church building was situated so that the eastern sun in the mornings would shine through the stained glass windows and I remember marveling when I was a child at the way the refracted rays of sun could be distinguished with their various hues of color slanting down from the windows to the floor. These beautiful stained glass windows were donated to the church by Bob Marshall, the famous steamboat captain, who was married to one of the Hauenstein women (Emma), and was a brother-in-law of William, who started the church. Captain Marshall at times would take the steamboats all the way to St. Louis where he had the opportunity to find wonderful works of art and furniture to bring back to Tuscumbia by river travel on the Osage.

The pews were hand made of cedar, one of which was given me as a gift by Frank Martin when the church closed its doors. I remember very well Lizzie (Hauenstein) Wright teaching Sunday school to the adults every Sunday morning standing behind the middle of the fifth row of pews near the rear of the church.

The people of Tuscumbia were very ecumenical; Lizzie's husband, Homer, and their son Bamber attended the Christian Church at the top of the hill while Lizzie and her daughters, Betty and Barbara, attended the Presbyterian Church which was located a good distance down the side of the hill just across the street from the bank. Similarly, Clarence Wright and his son, Homer Clay (not to be confused with Clarence's brother also named Homer), attended the Christian church but May (Hauenstein) Wright, Clarence's wife, attended the Presbyterian Church. In my time, Clarence and Homer Clay managed and owned the Anchor Mill Company. One of the Anchor Mill's buildings now houses the Miller County Historical Society's museum. Roger Stillwell (son of W.S.) attended the Presbyterian Church but his wife, Juanita (Messersmith) attended the Christian Church.

Other well known Tuscumbia citizens of the past who attended the Presbyterian church included Augusta (Hauenstein)Fogelman, charter member and daughter of William Hauenstein, both having been born in Bavaria; Walter S. Stillwell ( who is characterized by Clyde Lee Jenkins in his history of Miller County as " the most outstanding figure in the history of the county's legal profession" ) and family; Madison Bear (proprietor of general stores in Tuscumbia and Old Bagnell) and family; Frank Martin and family; Dewey and Ina Kallenbach (managed Hauenstein's general store for many years and lived with Ida Hauenstein in the large brick house at the end of Goose Bottom street); Captain Bob Marshall and his wife Emma (Hauenstein); Doctor and Mrs. Kouns; Agnes Brown and her children Marie, Jean, Kathleen and Elmer (Mrs. Brown came from Scotland where three of her children, Kathleen, Bert and Norman, were born); Ella (Fendorf) Swanson and children; Rosie Nichols, a wonderful Sunday School teacher (her husband, George owned a grocery store; their large beautiful house is still standing on Possum Trot street); Mrs. Jim Johnson and family; Mrs. Ralph Wells and daughter Helen (one of the old steamboats was named after Mrs. Wells' father-in-law, J.R. Wells, who owned a large farm down the river a few miles which featured an especially memorable mansion.); as well as many others who were much older than I or my mother who is helping me try to remember names.

Some of the ministers of the church after Reverend Robinson included Reverends Smutz, Gammon, Meeks, Bullard, and Hodges. These gentlemen served the church over a period extending from the early 1900's to the mid seventies. Personal information about these gentlemen is somewhat difficult to obtain since none was originally from the area having been assigned their positions by the Presbytery. Also, in later years, many of the ministers lived in Crocker where a Presbyterian church with a larger congregation was located. Reverend Smutz carried out his responsibilities admirably considering he had a handicapped child who required considerable care. Reverend Gammon was a very devout man who was so respectful of the Sabbath he never even read the Sunday paper. Reverend Meeks was known for his friendliness in the community; he always loved to spend the evenings at Sid Reed's service station at the junction of 52 and 17 talking with town folk.

Information obtained from Bamber Wright, Barbara Lyon, Chris Sailer, Susie Pryor, Bonnie Tyler, Kathy Fields, Elizabeth Deffenbaugh, Judge Jenkins' History of Miller County and Gerald Schulz's History of Miller County


By Alice Moss - 1984

In the early 1900's, possibly about the year of 1910 or 1911, church services were conducted by Rev. George F. Bell in the Johnston School house located in the southern part of Miller County and the Kelso School house located in the northern part of Pulaski County.

A year later the same Rev. Bell conducted services under a "brush arbor" which had been erected at a site where the John B. Sauls, Sr. farm and the Mary Hester Smelcer farm met, just east of the road which led from Iberia to Crocker. The "brush arbor" was located on what was known as the Loague hill and sort of combined the Johnston School community and the Kelso School community for these church services.

An Iberia resident, Mrs. Ova (Prater) Sauls recalls having attended, along with other member of her immediate family, also her cousins (children of the late Theodore and Etta Deardeuff) who lived on an adjoining farm to the Prater family. The youngsters walked the two miles distance and with evening chores to be done before leaving, sometimes the services would already be started when they arrived.

Ova still remembers how lovely was the sound of the Gospel hymns accompanied by a pump organ played by Anna Madden, as it floated out over the peaceful Ozark hills in the cool of the summer evening, when they were walking in the lane where Bethany Cemetery is now located.

As a result of these meetings it was decided to build a church house. Mr. James Loague and wife Mary Ann donated a parcel of land for the church to be built on, located where now the Bethany Cemetery road joins Missouri Highway 17.

Donations of money and labor were given to erect this building. It had cement walls with three windows on either side. The east end (facing cemetery road) had two windows and a door with a glass transom above the door. The steep roof was covered with cedar shingles.

The inside walls were painted a sky blue. Two rows of pews were hand made of pine lumber and were painted a maroon color. The pulpit stood upon the rostrum which was about 12 inches higher than the floor. A pump organ set to the right of the rostrum. A beautiful hanging (kerosene) lamp with glass shade, which was encircled with glass tassels, was suspended from the ceiling over the pulpit. A huge box stove set in the center with the stove pipe leading to the flue which was on the west end of the building.

The first ones to arrive in cold weather would build a fire and soon the house was warm for the services.

Soon after the church building was finished, money was donated to hire Ben Phillips to drill a well. This added convenience provided a refreshing drink for those who had walked or come by horse-drawn vehicles to attend Sunday school and church during the hot summer weather.

Rev. George F. Bell (a Presbyterian minister) continued to lead in services. The ladies connected with the church formed The Ladies Aid and gathered at the church each Thursday to quilt for interested people. The money earned was given to support the church.

Usually, one evening during each summer, an ice cream social would be held. The different farm families would bring milk, eggs, sugar, etc., needed to make ice cream. The men turned the hand freezers until the ice cream was frozen. Then the ladies served the delicious ice cream-price 5 cents per serving. This was a time for fellowship as well as some income for the church. After eating a dish of the cold delicacy, the youngsters would be shivering even though it was a warm summer evening.

One special project of the Ladies Aid was the making of a quilt which would be sold and the money thus raised given to the church.

 The Ladies Aid quilting in front of Bethany Church - 1926
The Ladies Aid quilting in front of Bethany Church - 1926
L-R seated: Emma Bort, Minerva Johnston, Mrs. Mortorman, Sally Prater, Ella Cadwell, Martha McMillan, Lucinda Sauls.
L-R standing: Zella Johnston, John B. Sauls and Cornelia Cadwell

Twelve different ladies used a 15-inch square of white material (bleached muslin). Each lady contacted her friends. For a contribution of ten cents the lady making the quilt block would embroidery the friend's name on her block. The money gathered in from the ten cent contributions was given to the church. The twelve blocks were then sewn together, three blocks wide and four blocks long. A seven inch wide strip of white was sewn in all four sides. It was then hand quilted, the lines about one inch apart. Two of the blocks have a date embroidered on them. One is June 2, 1912, the other reads Crocker, Mo. 1912. All of the embroidery work was done with red thread.

It is not remembered who all of the twelve ladies were who made the blocks. The ones who can be remembered are Stella Barnett, Alice Bear, Del Bell, Mrs. George F. Bell, Emma Bort, Mary Ann Loague, Sally Prater and Lucinda Sauls.

Stella Barnett received the award (believed to be $1.00) for having the most names on her block, 141 (which means a contribution of $14.10). A total of 842 names are on the twelve blocks which perhaps could be the names of parents, grandparents or other relatives of many who will read this article.

Bethany Church Quilt - (click to view larger image)

Some of the names written on the quilt who are still living (1984) include: Irene Barnett, Myrtle Barnett, Pearl Bell, Clarence Bort, Florence Bort,, Harold Bort, Ralph Bort, Blanche Condra, John Goodrich, Mabel Haus, Grace Johnston, Ross Johnston, C.R. Lowry, C. McMillian, E. McMillian, W. McMillian, Pearl Mitschelle, Gertrude Newcomb, Harold Newcomb, Bessie Oldham, Hazel Oldham, H.J. Oldham, Guy Prater, Johnny Setser, Millie Setser, Sarah Setser, E. Slawson and Paul Steen.

After the quilt was finished it was sold by auction during an above mentioned ice cream social. John B. Sauls, Sr. was the highest bidder and this amount added to $84.20 (contributions of 842 names per 10 cents each) made a nice sum for the Bethany Church in the early part of this century.

The need for a cemetery in the community was discussed. James and Mary Ann Loague donated a parcel of land lying north of the church, for burial purposes, however this land had trees and underbrush on it. John B. Sauls, Sr. was Sunday school superintendant. Ova vividly recalls, when she was a teenager, on a Sunday after services were over, Mr. Sauls, with hands clasped behind him, commented, "Boyd, we ought to get together and have a working and clear off the ground; we may need a burial place. Mr. Loague has been pretty poorly."

The date for the working was set. Some big trees were cut and piled up at the edge of the burial plot. Brush was cleared away as the men donated their time and labor. Mr. Loague was in poor health, however, Mr. John B. Sauls, Sr. became ill a short time later and passed away April 12, 1916, in a hospital in St. Louis and was the first corpse interred on this burial plot. A few weeks later, America Deardeuff died, July 1, 1916, and was the second interment. (America was the wife of Civil War veteran Stephen Deardeuff,who died about 1925). Emma Irwin was killed Nov. 22, 1916, in a "runaway". The horse pulling the buggy in which she was riding became frightened and ran, causing a wreck which killed Emma Irwin and Freeda Phillips. Emma Irwin became the third interment in less than a year. (Freeda Phillips was buried in the Alder Springs Cemetery).

Other interments to follow soon thereafter include: Susannah Deardeuff Jan. 13, 1917, her husband Simon Deardeuff, Nov. 9, 1918. (Simon was a Civil War veteran and brother of the above mentioned Stephen Deardeuff). Theodore Deardeuff Jan. 11, 1919; George Eschenbrenner Aug. 29, 1919; Mary Prater Jan. 3, 1920; William Smith Feb. 26, 1921. The above mentioned James Loague died in 1923.

John and Martha McMillian donated a parcel of land adjoining on the north which increased the size of the burial plot. Several years later J.U. and Sadie Glawson became the owners of the farm once belonging to James and Mary Ann Loague. They too donated a parcel of land for burial purposes which joined the west side of the cemetery and again the size of the burial plot was enlarged.

Often times a funeral service would be held in the church, then the casket was carried to the cemetery for burial. Other ministers who followed the above mentioned Rev. George F. Bell in serving the congregation included Mr. Gutherie, Rev. Walker and Rev. C. Smutz.

In the summer of 1926 while Rev. Walker was pastor, a Vacation Bible School was held which drew much interest of the children of the community. Rev. and Mrs. Walker were two of the teachers with other adults helping. The accompanying picture was taken the Sunday of the V.B.S. program.

Sunday school and church services were continued in the Bethany Church until it was destroyed by fire in March of 1930. In the early 1950's a shelter house was erected for use by those visiting the cemetery.

A perpetual care fund has been established for the maintenance of the cemetery with a board of three elected members to care for the business. Many other interments have followed since that first one in April 1916. Now 68 years later, relatives and friends from near and far visit the Bethany Cemetery to decorate the graves of departed loved ones.

Concerning the quilt with the 842 names-after the death of John B. Sauls Sr., his widow, Lucinda Sauls, cherished the quilt, and during her illness enjoyed having it spread on her bed so she could reminisce. After her death it became the property of her son, Andy Sauls and in turn since his death it belongs to Ova Sauls. It is now 72 years old and in excellent condition.

Addendum: The quilt and accompanying article were donated to the Miller County Historical Society by James Moss in the year 2000. This lovely treasure is now part of our rotating quilt display.

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