Knox College Struggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
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Religion essay
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TitleReligion essay
DescriptionAn essay by Jesse Howell Atwood about religion in the African American community in Galesburg, Illinois. The essay is about founding of two churches in Galesburg: the Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church and the Full Gospel Pentacostal Church. Jesse Howell Atwood, Knox College professor of sociology from 1930-1960, researched and wrote about race and race relations, often using the community of Galesburg, Illinois as a research subject. Date of the essay is unknown and it is unknown if this essay was published.
Subject (LCSH)African Methodist Episcopal Church; Pentacostal churches;
Named PersonVan Allen, Susan; Van Allen, Harry; Richardson, Thomas; Richardson, Susan; Woodfork, Rev.; Henderson, Rev. Levi; Smith, Samuel; Sanderson, Henry; Jacobs, C.S.; Thomas, Rev. Robert; Easley, William; Washington, J.W.; Williams, Frank; Ward, John; Washington, James; Dick, P.S.; Brown, James A.; Selik, Mr.; Davis, William; Walker, Dayse Huff; Huff, Anna;
AuthorAtwood, Jesse Howell
IdentifierJ. Howell Atwood Papers (box 9)
CollectionStruggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
Date Digital2012-06-15
Transcript[page 1]

The two dominant forms of Ameri-
can Negro religion -- the Baptist and
Methodist were the first [characters "distinctly" crossed out] separate
colored churches to be established
in Galesburg. Throughout the South
the Baptist churches are predominant.
But the original Negro church to be organ-
ized was named after Richard
Allen a Philadelphia Negro who,
because of slights and discriminatory
treatment, led his fellow followers
of Wesley into the African Methodist
Episcopal Church. But before Allen
Chapel A.M.E church was organized the few colored
folk during the '50s held prayer meetings in the
home of Aunt Susan at West & Ferris. She had
been the wife of Harry Van Allen, but her
husband disappeared, leaving her
with three children. She bought the

[page 2]
northeast corner of Ferris and West
streets, where the local gas and electricity
plants are now located. Job Swift who
lived across the street to the west
sold it to her for $25 and accord-
ing to the story, "she washed it out."
Her cow lot extended down toward
Cedar Fork -- across the street
from [characters "what is now Galesburg's" crossed out] the present red
light area. Thomas Richardson
with his wife and their eight
children had come from Bowling
Green, Kentucky. Subsequently
Thomas and Susan became man
and wife and thus it was Susan
Richardson who suggested that
the little praying Negro group author-
ize her to go up to the AME con-
ference [conference] in Chicago and ask the
Bishop for a Negro church. Though

[page 3]
Mrs. Richardson
was a member of First Church
and had cooked the meals for the men
as they built the original church on
the square. She sold her
sow and litter of pigs for rail-
road fare to Chicago -- to attend the
A.M.E. Conference.

She must have been "entertained"
by African Methodists in Chicago,
for that is the custom; that is, [characters: "board
and lodging are provided delegates
attending such a" crossed out] delegates attend-
ing such a conference are given room
and board by fellow methodists in
the city where the conference is held.

Thus in 1858 the Rev. Woodfork
was sent to the community to organize
the [characters "first Negro" crossed out] A.M.E. Church. In the early 60's

[page 4]
a small one-story frame building
was put up on the present site -- the
north side of Tompkins Street between
Prairie and Cherry Streets. According to
a current record book [characters "kept by" crossed out] of Allen Chapel
this lot was purchased for four hundred
dollars. The first trustees were Rev.
Levi Henderson, the pastor, Thomas Rich-
ardson [Richardson] (Aunt Susan's husband) and
Samuel Smith. The colored folk
worshipped in this building until
1874 when a larger frame building
was erected. It was finished ex-
cept for plastering when early one
Sunday morning a fire starting
in a barn to the east of the chapel
destroyed the church completely.
The congregation worshipped in the
church until their
church was rebuilt.

[page 5]
Some of the councilmen began
talking informally about a new
ordinance to extend the zone
restricted to fireproof buildings.[characters "This
would have been a serious obstacle
to the colored congregation" crossed out] Mayor
Henry Sanderson relayed this informa-
tion to Rev. C.S. Jacobs the AME
minister with the suggestion that
they get their frame up at once
before the council could meet and change the law. This
hint was followed and the present building, except
for its brick veneer was constructed.
The remodeling resulting in the
present edifice (1936) took place
during the pastorate of Rev.
Tyler. The building seats about
325 in the main auditorium.
Sunday school and dining facilities

[page 6]
are in the basement. The brick
veneering cost some $7, 000., leaving
an indebtedness of about $4, 000. to be
paid at the rate of $40. a month
one half of which was interest, the
other half principal. This would
required 16 years and 8 months
and really involved paying out
$4, 000 in interest as well as the $4000.
principal. This debt burden was car-
ried for 11 years. The Rev. Robert
Thomas an unusually well trained
and intelligent minister determin-
ed in 1922 that this debt must be
lifted. He held tag days which
netted a few hundred dollars. Finally
a grand rally was organized. The
debt was over 3000 -- indicating
that the reduction of the principal

[page 7]
had been delayed considerably. Each
organization within the church was
to pledge a definite sum to pay off
the mortgage. Mr. William Easley,
a colored citizen of the community, but not
a member of the church, went to the Mechanics Home-
stead [Homestead] and Loan Association to
find out what discount would
be allowed if the debt were discharged
at once. The answer came back --
$200. All the rally money was put in the
bank. But even with the discount
they still lacked $400. of pay-
ing the bill. Four colored men
said they would sign a note with the
church at the bank for the balan-
ce. Thus J.W. Washington, William
Easley, John Ward and Frank
Williams with James Washington,
secretary of the trustee boary complet-

[page 8]
the transaction, and
the whole amount was turned over to Tony
Swanson, the secretary of the loan
association. The report to the annual
conference for 1922 showed the mem-
bership of Allen Chapel that year was
130. Thus the building debt was almost $24.
per member. It is interesting that none
of the four men who volunteered to sign the $400.
note was a trustee and one wasn't
even a member.

During the pastorate the Rev. P.S.
Dick, 1932-1935 a new brick parsonage was
erected at W. Tompkins Street.
This property is valued at between four
and five thousand dollars.

But a church is not just an
edifice, nor is money raising the
major activity of its leaders
and members. The published proceedings

[page 9]
of the Chicago Annual Conference of
the African Methodist Episcopal
Church record the yearly total membership,
accessions to membership, probation-
ers, gifts to missions, church property,
marriages, deaths, pastor's salary etc.
Between 1913 and 1934 annual access-
ions to full membership averaged
21 persons. There were reported 130
members in 1913 and 189 members in
1934 -- a growth of 45% in 21 years.
In August each year each mem-
ber of Allen Chapel is expected to con-
tribute his "dollar money, " for the local
church's contribution to the annual
conference held in Chicago each
September. A printed report of these
contributions for August 1909 (1) gives
by name the membership at that
time -- together with a few other

(1) in the possession of Mr. James A. Brown, secretary of the Stewards
board of Allen Chapel.

[page 10]
non-member benefactors. Five
members were exempted by name
on account of old age and sickness.
The others were listed according
to their affiliation with each of
four classes -- under a trusted
and seasoned class leader. The total
list named 105 persons of whom only 32 were
known to be living in August 1936.
Thus 27 years later, less than 1/3 of
the 1909 membership was living.

White people of the town in the
early days took an interest in the
colored folk, as evidenced by a state-
ment from a elderly member of
Allen Chapel. "I was born in '68. I
went to Sunday school at Allen in
the early 70's. We had a little one
storey wooden building then. We

[page 11]
were taught by white Sunday school
teachers. A Mr. Selik, a white
business man, was one of our teachers.
Wm [William] J. Davis, a colored veteran of
the Civil War was very devoted to
the Sunday school. He was a teacher
too." Other older members have
spoken of the "young ladies of
Knox College" who used to devote a
part of Sunday afternoon to teaching
in the AME Sunday school.

[page 12]
The youngest colored church in
the city was also founded by a woman,
Daisy Huff Walker, daughter of Mrs. Anna
Huff. It is the Full Gospel Pentacost-
al [Pentacostal] Mission now occupying a neat well-
painted store-type of building at 719 W. Knox
Street. "I've been Pentacost since
1913. I came here from Los Angeles
in 1927, though I've lived in Chicago
most of my life. Mother lived here
and she was ill. For four years I
was associated with the AME church
here. I had charge of the Christian
endeavor services. Then I assisted
by taking the pulpit when the pastor
was at conference. I was ordained
in the Pentacostal Assemblies in 1922,
while living in Chicago." Ten years
later Evangelist Walker established
the mission in a little "store front"
at 892 W Brooks Street -- Nov. 8,
1932. With her mother, four other

[page 13]
women and one man -- the hus-
band of one of the four -- the enter-
prise of faith was launched.

The little group, now numbering
twenty-two adults, constitute an
excellent example of a self-contained sect, as dis-
tinguished from the older, larger,
more completely adjusted-to-the-world
denomination. The boundaries
of the sect are clear cut. It poss-
esses the exclusive way to salva-
tion. However well intentioned
others may be they are lost.

[page 14]
"If you talk in the _____ church about
being filled with the Holy Ghost and
fire you start a fight. They are too
modern. They take man's word. We
don't believe in gambling, going to
shows, dancing, cards and that kind
of things. We have separated, come
out from all that; don't want to ass-
ociate with it. We believe in ab-
staining from the things of the world --
a peculiar people zealous of good
works, with consecrated lives devoted
to righteousness.... This is the end
of an age when there is a great falling
away. Last year our mission was
full. This year it isn't so. Most
people don't want to be separated
from sin. They don't want to pay the
price. We have only one young

[page 15]
person. The young are not
interested in the deeper work of
grace. They aren't interested in
church at all -- at least not
here in Galesburg. The young are
very active and interested in Cam-
bridge, [Cambridge] Massachusetts, but they
are West Indians. Foreigners
seem to be more interested in the re-
ligion [religion] than our own citizens, that
is, in our own race group."

The Full Gospel Pentacostal Mission
is affiliated with a national organ-
ization: United Pentacostal Council
of the Assemblies of God, Incorporated,
with headquarters and national office
at 59 Moore Street, Cambridge
Massachusetts. The bishop, Elder George
A. Phillips, is a West Indian Negro.

[page 16]
Membership includes both colored
and white, though there are only
four white elders (preachers) in
the organization. Their women preach-
ers [preachers] are commonly referred to
as evangelists. A roster of the church-
es [churches] and missions appearing in the
Apostolic Messenger, the official
quarterly publication shows 11 in
Massachusetts, Rhode Island and
Connecticut, 6 in New York and New Jersey
3 in Louisville, Kentucky
1 in Indiana
11 in Illinois, 9 being in the Chicago area.
[characters "3 in Louisville, Ky." crossed out]
[characters "1 in Indiana" crossed out]
1 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
13 in British West Indies
1 in Liberia (2 missionaries)
Full Gospel fundamentals as out-
lined by Mrs. Walker stress the Bible
as the word of God, written by men of old

[page 17]
as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, --
a light to guide a lost world from sin
to glory; "a plumbline to make straight
the life of each individual and commun-
ity." Spiritual baptism with the Holy
Ghost and fire is necessary. The immi-
ment coming of Christ is emphasized.
Prayer for the healing of the sick is
used. Salvation is through grace --
a new birth. The trinitarian conception
makes God Creator of heaven and earth;
Son co-eternal with the Father; and Holy
Spirit -- shed abroad, omnipotent and
Services are not held at the
hours conventional for many Protestant
churches. The Sunday preaching hours
are 3:30 P.M. and 7:30 P.M. at the
evening service is an altar call. The
"Tarry meeting" Tuesday evening is an
extended prayer meetings while on Thurs-
day is held the weekly all day prayer service,
and in the evening the pastor teaches a

[page 18]
Bible class. There are 25 children
from 3 to 10 years old in the Sunday
school and though there is no age limit
on admission to church member-
ship none of the children are members.
Sunday school is held at 9:30 A.M.
Some white people attend the
Mission, but they are not members. The
more regular attendants are associated with the Calvary
Pentacostal Church on east South
Street. A few Knox College students
are occasionally in the congregation,
attracted by the marked sincerity
and spontaneous expressiveness of
the worship services.
A professionally lettered sign
reaches out like a flag proclaiming
the name of the mission. The store
windows are clean and snowy curt-
ains give privacy to the auditorium
within. Simplicity marks the furnish-
ings of the interior. An illustrated chart
of golden texts is on the wall -- a

[page 19]
reminder that this is a Sunday
school at 9:30 A.M. In the corner
of this well-lighted, well-painted,
well-kept room is the pulpit behind
an altar rail, and above from the
celing hangs an electrically lighted
cross. Nothing is tawdry; nothing is

Physical DescriptionHandwritten on the backs of full sheets of scrap paper.
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