Methodist Episcopal Church
In a very early day, probably early in the thirties, Rev. James Mayfield organized a church of this denomination in the vicinity of War Eagle Mills. Prior to 1839 Rev. Walter Thornberry organized a Methodist church at his residence in the southern part of the county, in the vicinity of Wager’s Mills. Rev. Swaggerty was a pioneer minister of this denomination in Benton County, laboring during the thirties, and perhaps later. Martin and Walter, sons of Walter Thornberry, Sr., both became Methodist preachers. Other Methodist churches were established in the county in an early day, and when the separation took place, in 1844-45, nearly all the members thereof united with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, thus leaving the original church without an organization in the county, and so it remained until 1882, when Rev. O. R. Brant, formerly of Eureka Springs, organized a society under a brush arbor at Rogers, with seven members, three or four of whom belonged to his own family. About the same time an organization of the church was effected at Siloam Springs. Since that time all the societies of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the county have been organized, and all belong to the Rogers District of the Arkansas Conference, with Elder Mattox presiding. The county is divided into stations and circuits as follows: Rogers’ station includes one monthly appointment at Springdale in Washington County; Rev. H. H. Scroggs, who lives at Rogers, is the station preacher. The Bentonville station includes one monthly appointment at Cave Springs, and Rev. William Buck, residing at Bentonville, is the station minister. The Siloam Springs station includes only the city of Siloam Springs, and the present station minister is Rev. J. M. Jackson. The Mason Valley circuit consists of appointments at the following places: Springtown, Harmony, Moter’s Chapel and Dripping Springs; Rev. John Welch is the preacher on this circuit. War Eagle Mills circuit consists of War Eagle Mills, Hickory Creek and Silver Springs; Rev. La Fayette Mason is the minister on this circuit. The Wheeler circuit, in Washington County, has one or two appointments in Benton County.
After organizing the church at Rogers, Rev. Brant remained and preached three years, and was succeeded by Rev. Mattox, who also preached three years. The church edifice at this place was erected in 1884, and the one at Bentonville in 1887-88. The church at Bentonville was organized in June, 1887. The aggregate membership of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Benton County is about 370.
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
The first organization of this denomination in Benton County was formed about the year 1830, near the present site of Bentonville, being some distance east thereof. The second one was organized at Pea Ridge, and about the same time or a little later one was organized at Maysville. Revs. Andrew and John Buchanan, ministers of this denomination, were pioneer preachers in Benton County during the thirties, and are claimed to have been the first religious workers in the territory of the county. They were great workers in the cause of Christianity. Up to the time of the outbreak of the Civil War Rev. John Buchanan had preached in every county of Arkansas then organized. Following are the names of the several churches of this denomination now existing in Benton County, together with the names of the pastors thereof: Bentonville, Rev. F. T. Charlton; Woods, two miles east of Bentonville, Pea Ridge and Rogers, Rev. Peter Carnahan; Maysville, Rev. Johns; Siloam, Rev. J. D. Rush. The aggregate membership of these churches is about 500 or upward. Outside of these organizations there is a number of members of this denomination within the county.
The first Baptist society organized in Benton County was the one known now as “Twelve Corners.” It was organized in 1842, in the log cabin residence of William Reddick, at the place where the famous Elkhorn tavern now stands. It was organized by Elders J. F. Mitchell and Charles B. Whiteley, the latter of whom resided in what is now Carroll County. Several years before that time Elder Whiteley had organized a church on War Eagle Creek, a short distance south of the Benton County line. He, like many other men, had certain peculiarities, one of which was a desire to preach his own funeral sermon. About a year before he died he announced to the public that if he lived to reach the age of fifty years he would then preach his own funeral sermon; and if he did not reach that age he had a man selected to preach the sermon at his death. He lived to the desired age and preached his own funeral sermon in Prairie Township, in Carroll County, near where he lived. After the sermon he gave a public dinner at his house, to which he invited all his friends. Many partook of his hospitality, and joined in the exercises of this pleasant and joyful occasion.
As time passed and settlements increased more Baptist churches were organized throughout the county. The Mount Zion Baptist Association was organized in Carroll County in 1840, and when churches of this denomination were organized in Benton County they joined the association. In 1886 the churches of Benton County, formerly belonging to this association, formed the Benton County Baptist Association. The first session of this association was held at Corner Springs Baptist Church, in the western part of the county; the second session at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, near Rogers, and the third and last one was held in the Baptist Church at Siloam Springs, in September of the present year (1888). This church has become very strong, and in numbers is the strongest one in the county. According to the published minutes of the second session of the Benton County Baptist Association (those of the third session not being published yet), there were the following named churches of that denomination in Benton County, with pastors’ names annexed, and a total membership of 1,971, to wit: Bentonville, I. R. Hall and J. B. Stark; Bloomington, W. F. Green; Butler Creek, G. W. Setser; Bethesda, I. R. Hall; Corner Springs, Joseph Setser; Elm Springs, J. C. Robertson; Flint Creek, Joseph Setser; Honey Creek, E. J. Hogan; Illinois, E. S. Gibbs; Mount Pleasant, G. W. Setser; Mount Enterprise, same; Mason Valley, L. Hine; Maysville, Nelson; New Prospect, G. P. Rodgers; Pleasant Grove, I. R. Hall; Pleasant Site, A. J. Maxwell; Pleasant Hill, J. Dunagin; Pea Ridge, A. J. Maxwell; Rogers, J. Dunagin; Siloam, A. J. Estes; Southern Grove, S. S. Graham; Spring Creek, J. C. Robertson; Springtown, same; Spavinaw, ; Sulphur Springs, J. W. West; Temperance Hill, I. R. Hall; Twelve Corners, W. R. Mahuren; Wager’s Mill, J. C. Robertson; Walnut Hill, ; Cherokee City, L. Hine; Lone Valley, S. B. Ford; thirty-one in all.
Methodist Episcopal Church, South
This church, after its organization in 1844-45, continued to grow in strength, and now it has twenty-four separate organizations, and a membership of 1,600 in the county of Benton. The several organizations form an integral part of the Fayetteville District of the Arkansas Conference, of which Rev. James A. Peebles is the present presiding elder. The church of this denomination at Bentonville has been made a “station,” and Rev. T. J. Reynolds is the present station minister. Another “station” is composed of the churches at Rogers, in Benton County, and Springdale, in Washington County, and Rev. B. C. Matthews, of Springdale, the station minister, preaches alternately at these places. The Bentonville Circuit lies northeast of the city of Bentonville, comprising the Pea Ridge country. It consists of Tuck’s, Buttram’s, Hileman’s and Post Oak chapels; Rev. W. M. Baldwin is the rider on this circuit. The Clifta Mission lies east of the Bentonville Circuit and east of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad; Rev. R. P. Hardcastle is the minister of this mission. The Center Point Circuit lies south of Bentonville, and consists of the churches known as Center Point, Oakley’s Chapel and Hebron; Alex. Matthis is the circuit preacher. The Siloam Circuit lies in the southwestern part of Benton County, and is composed of the church at Siloam Springs, and at Cincinnati, in Washington County, and other country churches; Rev. J. H. Meyers is the circuit minister. The Bloomfield Circuit lies in the west central portion of the county, and consists of the churches at Bloomfield and Maysville and some country churches. Between this and the Bentonville Circuit is a large tract of country not included in any circuit, but in which the church does missionary work. The value of the church property belonging to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in Benton County, is reported at $10,500. There are twenty-one local preachers of this denomination in the county. The number of Sunday-schools is sixteen, with 960 scholars belonging to them. The church has occasionally held camp-meetings at Buttram’s Chapel, and is making arrangements to hold annual camp-meetings there hereafter. The membership of this church is fairly increasing, and the several organizations are doing good work.
Elder Larkin Scott, now of Bentonville, settled near the Osage Springs in 1856, and upon inquiry found only one organization of the Christian Church in Benton County; and that one was located on Spavinaw Creek, about sixteen miles west of Bentonville. The preacher in charge was Elder Goodnight. The following year, upon solicitation, this elder organized a society of the Christian denomination at the house of Mr. Scott, where they continued to worship until the outbreak of the Civil War. Up to this time no other organizations of this church existed in Benton County, and the first one organized after the war closed was the one at Bentonville, which was organized in the fall of 1865, principally through the instrumentality of Larkin Scott, who was elected as elder thereof, and preached his first discourse in February following. Since that time a large number of organizations of the Christian Church has been formed in the county, of which the following is a list of their names or localities, together with the names of the elders preaching at each, so far as they are supplied: Bentonville, E. T. Russell; Maysville, S. R. Beaman; Rogers, Lowell and Wire Springs, Larkin Scott; Pea Ridge, Prof. J. R. Roberts; Oak Grove and Antioch, W. S. Herman; Nebo, J. C. Lawson; Gordon Hollow, Bloomfield and Cherokee City, no regular preacher; Robinson, John Leonard; Siloam Springs, Marshall; Mason Valley, Dr. G. W. Robinson; Brightwater, John Nantz; Roller’s Ridge, no regular preacher; church north of Pea Ridge Academy, M. L. Banks; head of Sugar Creek, Elder Inman. This makes nineteen church organizations of this denomination within the county, all of which have been organized since the Civil War closed. Estimating the average membership of all of these organizations at forty-five, the aggregate would be 855 members, which is believed to be a fair estimate.
In May, 1887, Elder Larkin Scott, at the age of seventy, baptized and took into church fellowship “Uncle Dick” Bennett, whose age, according to best information, was one hundred and nine years. Mr. Bennett had never made a profession of religion, and at the age of one hundred and nine years he concluded that it was time to prepare for death. He voted the Democratic ticket at the last election (September, 1888), and still lives at this writing.
Of this denomination there never has been but one organization in Benton County. It was organized about 1844-45 at the head waters of the Osage, six miles southwest of Bentonville, by Rev. Cephas Washburn, who resided there, and was missionary, by appointment, for the Cherokee Indians. He preached there about six years, until the church was discontinued at that place. It was reorganized at Bentonville about 1852 by Rev. Joshua F. Green, of Little Rock, and Rev. W. K. Marshall, of Van Buren, Ark., and Rev. A. W. Morrison, of Bentonville. The latter served as pastor of the church until he was killed, during the war, while returning from mill. On February 5, 1870, the church was again reorganized, this time by Rev. C. M. Richards, an evangelist under the Arkansas Presbytery, assisted by Rev. W. A. Sample. Rev. Richards remained and preached until his death, which occurred August 27, 1872. The congregation was without a pastor until July 1, 1873, when Rev. D. C. Boggs took charge as stated supply, and still stands in that relation to it. The present membership of the church numbers fifty-eight, and they are scattered throughout the county. The Sabbath-school has a fair average attendance, and is kept up throughout the year. A. W. Dinsmore is the superintendent. The fine brick edifice of this denomination was erected in 1877.
The Congregationalists have a church at Rogers, and also at Siloam Springs, and the Society of Friends have a church at the latter place. There may be a few organizations of other denominations, not herein mentioned, in the county.
The churches of all denominations in the towns and villages sustain Sunday-schools throughout the year, while most of them in the country have their Sunday-schools during the summer months.
Back to: Benton County, Arkansas History
Source: History of Benton, Washington, Carroll, Madison, Crawford, Franklin, and Sebastian Counties, Arkansas. Chicago, IL, USA: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.