Illinois Religious History


The books and articles below are about churches, missionaries and other religious activities in Illinois history. See the right column for more info about this website.

Centennial History of the Mennonites of Illinois 1829-1929

Goshen, IN: The Mennonite Historical Society. 1931.
Go to Book

The author was a Mennonite and a graduate of two theological seminaries. The editor describes this as a, “comprehensive work of cyclopedic character, which includes in addition to material of a general nature, a specific history of each Mennonite congregation and institution which has ever been established in the great prairie state of Illinois.”

Mennonites, Church history, Illinois history, 19th century, 20th century, books online, American history book

Illinois Society of Church History; Congregational. Historical Statement and Papers

Chicago: the Society 1895
Go to Book

In 1891 the Illinois Congregational Church History Society was created. It solicited members of churches throughout the state to, “collect and preserve in permanent form the story of the origin and growth of the Churches in this State.” This volume contains a few pages describing that Society, and the remainder is devoted to papers that were submitted by members throughout Illinois that trace the history of various congregations. There is also a paper on the early history of the Chicago Theological Seminary.

Congregationalist, Church history, public domain, historical, ebooks free

Sketches of the Life and Times of the Rev. Stephen Bliss, A.M.

Cincinnati: Elm Street 1870
Baldridge, Samuel C.Go to Book

This book is dedicated as a, “contribution to the history of the fathers and founders of Presbyterianism in Illinois.” The Rev. Stephen Bliss (1787-1847) arrived at Mt. Carmel, Illinois in 1818 just as it was being laid out, and established a church and school there. When the author was assigned to the ministry there many years later, he learned that this church was one of the earliest Presbyterian churches in Illinois. This is an admiring biography of Bliss, as well as a history of both the early church and the place.

Missionary, Presbyterian, biography, Stephen Bliss, free history, 1800s, online books free

Illinois Religious History

The World’s Parliament of Religions …

London: Review of Reviews 1893
Barrows, Rev. John Henry, ed. Go to Book|Go to Book

(title continued) ” … An Illustrated and Popular Story of the World’s First Parliament of Religions, Held in Chicago in connection with the Columbian Exposition of 1893″

“A number of congresses were held in conjunction with the exposition, including those dealing with anthropology (one of the major themes of Exposition exhibits), labor, medicine, temperance, commerce and finance, literature, history, art, philosophy, and science. One of these was the World’s Parliament of Religions, an initiative of the Swedenborgian layman (and judge) Charles C. Bonney. The Parliament of Religions was by far the largest of the congresses held in conjunction with the Exposition.”
“The 1893 Parliament, which ran from 11 to 27 September, marked the first organized gathering of representatives of Eastern and Western spiritual traditions. Today it is recognized as the occasion of the birth of formal interreligious dialogue worldwide.”
– Wikipedia entry “Parliament of the World’s Religions”

The two volumes contain a large number of photos, in addition to many chapters divided into Parts, as follows:

Part 1: History of the Parliament
1. The Origin of the Plan for a Parliament of Religions
2. The World’s Response to a Great Idea
3. The Assembling of the Parliament: Words of Welcome and Fellowship
4. The Chronicle of the Parliament from the Second Day to the Sixteenth
5. Close of the Parliament

Part 2: Introduction to the Parliament Papers
1. The Study of the World’s Religions
2. What the Various Faiths – Brahman, Buddhist, Parsee, Confucian, Mohammedan, Jew, and Christian – had to say concerning God
3. What the World’s Religions reported in regard to the Nature of Man
4. The Various Estimates of the Importance of Religion
5. What Scholarship had to say on the Various Systems of Religion
6. Interesting Accounts of the Sacred Books of the World
7. What Religion has Wrought in Family Life
8. Addresses on the Chief Religious Leaders of Mankind
9. Report of the Connection of Religion with the Arts and Sciences
10. What the Various Faiths had to Say of Religion in its Relation to Morals
11. The Account of Religion and Modern Social Problems
12. The History of Religion and Civil Society
13. The Relation of Religion and the Love of Mankind
14. What was Said of the Present Religious Condition of Christendom
15. The Aspirations for the Religious Reunion of Christendom
16. Hopes for the Religious Union of the Whole Human Family
17. What were Deemed the Elements of a Perfect Religion

Part 2: The Parliament Papers
[55 papers by various authors are contained in 550 pages in Volume 1; Volume 2 has 116 papers spanning 600 pages.]

Part 3: The Scientific Section: Reports and Abstracts of Papers
[Opening address and 17 short papers]

Part 4: The Denominational Congresses
[Reports from 34 congresses representing different denominations; virtually all Christian]

Part 5: Review and Summary

Illinois Baptists; a History

Bloomington, IL: Pantagraph 1930
Brand, Edward P.Go to Book

For more works on Baptists in the region, see:
McCoy, Isaac, History of Baptist Indian Missions, embracing remarks on the former and present condition of the aboriginal tribes … in Great Lakes Region Religious History;
Stott, William T. , Indiana Baptist History, 1798-1908 in Indiana Religious History;
Trowbridge, Mary Elizabeth Day, History of Baptists in Michigan in Michigan Religious History

Baptist church history

Autobiography of Peter Cartwright, the Backwoods Preacher. edited by W.P. Strickland

Cincinnati, Cranston & Curts; 1856
Cartwright, PeterGo to Book

This famous Methodist circuit-rider made an exploratory trip through Illinois in 1823 and located the following year in Sangamon County. He had charge of several districts in the central and northern part of the state and traveled extensively on his circuits and in attending conferences. Though containing little formal description, the book depicts social and religious conditions on the frontier.

Methodist Church, clergy, autobiography, Peter Cartwright, Sangamon county IL, 19th century, history book online

Catholic church in Chicago, 1673-1871

Chicago: Loyola University 1921
Garraghan, Gilbert JosephGo to Book

Chapter headings are:

-Early Missionary Visitors
-The Pastorate of Father St. Cyr, 1833-1834
-Bishop Brute and the Mission of Chicago
-The Pastorate of Father St. Cyr, 1834-1837
-Bishop Quarter
-Bishop Van de Velde
-Bishop O’Regan
-Bishop Duggan
-Bishop Foley and the Fire of 1871

See also:
– Blanchard, Charles., ed., comp., History of the Catholic Church in Indiana in Indiana Religious History
;
Lamott, John Henry, History of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, 1821-1921 in Ohio Religious History;
Pare, George, The Catholic Church in Detroit, 1701-1888 in Michigan Religious History;
Heming, Harry Hooper, The Catholic Church in Wisconsin in Wisconsin Religious History

Catholic church, Church history, Chicago, 19th century, history book online, public domain

Brethren in Northern Illinois and Wisconsin

Elgin, IL: Brethren Publishing Hourse 1941
Heckman, John and Miller, J.E. Go to Book

This history of the Church of the Brethren is for the most part a collection of brief profiles of individual congregations in Northern Illinois and Wisconsin. There is also a section on ‘Activities’ of the church as a whole, and some biographies. Illinois congregations profiled are:

-Arnold’s Grove
-Franklin Grove (Rock River)
-West Branch
-Yellow Creek
-Hickory Grove
-Pine Creek
-Milledgeville (Dutchtown)
-Bethel (Naperville)
-Cherry Grove
-Waddams Grove
-Rock Creek
-Silver Creek (Mount Morris)
-Shannon
-Lanark
-Pigeon Creek (Oak Grove)
-First Church, Chicago
-Batavia
-Elgin
-Polo
-Dixon
-Rockford
-Freeport
-Chelsea
-Douglas Park

Church of the Brethren, Church history, Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, online books, US history book

Illinois Religious History

History of Methodism in Illinois from 1793 to 1832

Cincinnati: 1883
Leaton, James (Rev.) Go to Book

The four parts of the book are:

-Western Conference, 1793-1811 (seems to include Kentucky and Illinois)
-Tennessee Conference, 1812-1815
-Missouri Conference, 1816-1823
-Illinois Conference, 1824-1831

Within each of these parts there are chapters for each year that cover that year’s conference (if there was one), principal people and events in the establishment and growth of churches, and some miscellaneous other topics. The author said that, “This is not so much a history as a collection of material for the use of the future historian.”

For more works on Methodism in the region, see:
– Boase, Paul, “The Fortunes of a Circuit Rider” in Ohio Religious History

King, I. F., “Introduction of Methodism in Ohio” in Ohio Religious History
Bennett, P. S., History of Methodism in Wisconsin in Wisconsin Religious History;
Holliday, Rev. F. C., Indiana Methodism: Being an Account of the Introduction, Progress, and Present Position of Methodism in the State in Indiana Religious History;
Price, Ruth, “Indiana Methodism 1816-1832” in Indiana Religious History;
Finley, James B., Sketches of Western Methodism: Biographical, Historical, and Miscellaneous, Illustrative of Pioneer Life in Great Lakes Region Religious History

Methodist Episcopal Church, Methodists, Illinois history, 1800s, books online, free history

The Jesuit Missions of the Illinois country, 1673-1763

Cleveland: 1933
Palm, Mary B. (Sister) Go to Book

Part names and chapter headings are:

1. Introduction
-The French in North America
-The Jesuit Mission Field in French North America

2. The Mission of the Immaculate Conception among the Kaskaskia, 1673-1700
-At the Great Illinois Village, 1673-1691
-At Peoria, 1691-1700

3. The Mission of the Guardian Angel at Chicago, c. 1696-1702

4. The Mission among the Kaskaskia at the Des Peres River, 1700-1703

5. Kaskaskia, the Indian Mission Village, 1703-1718

6. The Missionaries in the Illinois Country, 1718-1763
-The Boisbriant Regime, 1718-1724
-The Mission of St. Francis Xavier at Michigamea, 1720-1736
-St. Anne’s at Fort de Chartres
-The Parish of the Immaculate Conception at Kaskaskia, 1719-1763
-Indian Kaskaskia, 1718-1763
-Vincennes, 1732-1763
-Ste. Genevieve, 1735-1763

7. Side-lights in the Parish Registers of Kaskaskia

8. The Banishment of the Jesuits from the Illinois Country

Appendix
-The Great Illinois Village
-The Jesuit Missionaries in the Illinois
-Notes on the Map of the Jesuit Missions in the Illinois Country

Bibliography

For more works on Jesuits in the region, see:
Kip, William Ingraham (Rev.), The Early Jesuit Missions in North America; compiled and translated from the letters of the French Jesuits, with notes in Great Lakes Region Religious History;
Nute, Grace Lee, ed., Documents relating to Northwest Missions, 1815-1827 in Great Lakes Region Religious History;
Parkman, Francis, The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century in Michigan Religious History;
Thwaites, Reuben Gold, The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents: Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France, 1610-1791 in Michigan Religious History;
Verwyst, Chrysostom, Missionary Labors of Fathers Marquette, Menard and Allouez, in the Lake Superior Region in Wisconsin Religious History

Jesuits, missions, missionary, 17th century, 18th century, Illinois history, Kaskaskia, Chicago, Illinois country, Michigamea, Fort de Chartres, Vincennes, Ste. Genevieve, banishment of Jesuits

The Methodist Movement in Northern Illinois

Scyamore, IL: Sycamore Tribune 1942
Pennewell, Almer M.Go to Book


The Earliest Religious History of Chicago

Fergus Historical Series No. 26-29

Chicago: Fergus 1888
Porter, Jeremiah (Rev.)Go to Article

“An address read before the Chicago Historical Society in 1839”. The author arrived in Chicago in 1833 when the entire population, including soldiers at Fort Dearborn, was about 300 persons. This address is as much a reminiscence of the early history of the town as it is a history of organized religion there.

Recollections of Frontier Life

Rockford, ILL: Gazette. 1885
Roe, Elizabeth A. Go to Book

The author wrote in the Preface, “In these pages many recollections of frontier life in different localities are sketched. The climate, the soil, society, schools and churches, in many places in Kentucky, Illinois and Nebraska are described…”

Chapter headings are:

-My Childhood
-The Garden and the Gardener
-Earliest Recollections of Methodism and its Influence on me
-Religious Resolutions and how they were Prosecuted
–Recollections of early Married Life
-Doctor’s Adventure on the Farm
-Removal to Rock River – Progress of Methodism
-Recollections of Methodism in Chicago
-Recollections of Payne’s Point
-Recollections of Rockford and our new Home on the Prairie
-Visit to Nebraska
-Death of Dr. John Roe
-Funeral Sermon
-Dr. John Roe
-Birthday Testimony

autobiography, Rockford IL, Methodists, Rock River, Payne’s Point, free online books, public domain

Illinois Religious History

“Early Religious Methods and Leaders in Illinois”

Transactions No. 7. 1902 pp 56-62

Springfield: Illinois State Historical Society
Short, W. F.Go to Article

In this short paper the author provides some data for the earliest establishment in Illinois of churches for the Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians. He also discusses early camp meetings, church promotion of education, and founding of some early colleges.

Methodist Episcopal Church, Presbyterian, Baptist, Episcopalian, Church history, camp meetings, history magazine, Illinois State Historical Society


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