HISTORY OF BELLVUE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH - CALEDONIA, MO.

College & Henry St., Washington County, Caledonia, Missouri

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Robert Sloan came to this valley in the early 1800's.   His cabin was built on the present site of the Bellevue Presbyterian Church. Thirty households and slaves arrived from the Iredell and Lincoln counties of North Carolina on November 30, 1807 and camped near the Sloan cabin.  The next morning, they held a Sunrise Prayer Service.  They settled throughout the valley and met often for prayer,and to petition the Lord for someone to organize them into a church.

Nine years later, Salmon Giddings, answered that call.  He organized the church on August 3, 1816, with 29  members.   Reverend Giddings was a Congregationalist, who later became a Presbyterian.  This young church took the name Concord, and built a log church at the site of Bellevue Presbyterian Cemetery.  The church burned in 1838, and was replaced in 1841 with a brick building on the same site.   On April 24, 1841 the name was changed to The Bellevue Presbyterian Church.
  

The congreagation decided to relocate in Caledonia.  A brick building was erected at the cost of $6,000 dollars, and was dedicated on August 11, 1872.  The manse had been completed earlier in 1868 at a cost of $1,800 dollars.

Thomas Donnel, of Gilford County, North Carolina, became the first pastor and served the church for about 25 years.  He married Eliza Sloan.

The Bellevue Church has received the prestigious Church of Distinction Citation Award for the Synod of Missouri in 1960, and was enrolled in the Registry of American Presbyterian and Reformed Historical Sites in 1979.  During 1987, The Bellevue Presbyterian Church gained entry as part of the National Registry of Historic Places.

The above information is from the church bulletin which was provided by Mrs. Kathy Belcher, wife of Rev. Charles Belcher, on 21 August 2001. Church photographed on same date.

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Below is the history of the church as taken from the "History of Missouri" by Louis Houck:

The names of the members of this first Presbyterian church formed west of the Mississippi [river], male and female, old and young, as preserved by Robert M. Stevenson, were: Jason Frizzel, Miles Goforth and wife, Mary McCreary, William Henderson and wife, Robert Sloan and wife, James Robinson, wife and mother, Elisha Baker, William Campbell and wife, Joseph McCarty, Robert M. Stevenson and wife, John Baird and mother, John Pettigrew and wife, Anthony Sharpe and wife, John McClintock and wife, William Sloan and wife, Nicholas Hays and wife, John Walker and wife, Thomas Jordan, Josiah Bell, John Gibbins and wife, Samuel Gibbins, Thomas Baker and wife, John R. Broker, Ananias McCoy, John and Luke Davis, Samuel Henderson, Daniel Gallagher, John Blair, Daniel Phelps, John P. Alexander and wife, French Strother and wife, Samuel Sloan and wife, James Johnson, Abraham Beckman, Joseph Gibbins and wife, John T. Webb and wife, John Clarkson and wife, John McCormick, William Davis and wife, Patrick Estes and wife, Andrew Goforth, Timothy Phelps, William Sloan and wife, James McCormick, William O. Stevenson, Thomas Blair and wife, Fergus Sloan, John Robinson, Elijah Baker, James Gibbons and wife, Robert Gibbons and wife, William Webb, Elizabeth Hewitt, Moses Scott and wife, John Hughes, Levi A. Sloan, Solomon Davis and wife, Lot Davis and wife, John Johnson and wife, Zack Goforth, William McCarty, George Ashbrook, John Anderson, Robert Alexander, Thomas Sloan, Hewett Bail and wife, A.T. Alexander and wife, Cynthia Alexander, William S. Sloan, John Sloan, James Sloan, Amos Sloan and William McLaughlin.

The first meeting took place Wednesday, July 31, 1816, and another meeting on the following Friday.  William Sloan, Robert Sloan, Joseph McCormack and Alexander Boyd were installed as elders, and Dr. Giddings says that "the sacrament was administered the Sabbath after," and he says that it "was a solemn and a delightful season to many," and that a very large audience attended and "behaved with decency."


Below is the history from the "History of Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Crawford & Gasconade Counties, Missouri" by Goodspeed - 1888 Reprint:

Bellevue Presbyterian Church, Caledonia, Mo.  The first Presbyterian Church west of the Mississippi was organized August 3, 1816, by a colony from North Carolina, which settled at and about the site of Caledonia.  On the record appears the names of twenty original members, as follows:  R.M. Stevenson and Rebecca, his wife, William Sloan and Jane, his wife, John P. Alexander and Caroline, his wife, James Robinson and Jane, his wife, Thomas Bare and wife, A. Boyd and wife, Joseph McCormick, John Bare, Miss Jane Alexander and Miss Jane Robinson.  Joseph McCormick, R.M. Stevenson and William Sloan were chosen ruling elders.  Tradition says they were ordained in their native state with a view to organization in their western home.   The organization was effected by Rev. Salmon Giddings, taking the name of Concord Church.  It's first pastor was Rev. Thomas Donnel.  A beautiful site in the valley of Bellevue was selected, on which a log house was erected.  On two sides wings were extended, so as to accomodate a large augience.  Owing to some church difficulties the St. Louis Presbytery ordered the session of the Concord Church to meet that body in Caledonia the Saturday before the fourth Sunday in April, 1841.  At that meeting the following resolution was passed:

Resolved, That from and after the time of the election and installation of elders the church shall be known by the name of Bellevue Presbyterian Chruch.

In 1871 a new church house was built in Caledonia, a brick, 36 x 60 feet, with audience room and basement, at a cost of about $6,000.  The building was dedicated August 11, 1872, by Rev. W.H. Parks.  In connection is a parsonage, built at a cost of some $1,800.  The present membership [1886] numbers 105.  A list of the pastors is here appended, the first of whom held pastoral relations twenty-five years:  Thomas Donnel, J.T. Cowan, A.A. Mathews, G.C. Crow, Julius Spencer, T.C. Barrett, A.W. Milster, H.B. Barks, H.C. Brown and Joseph T. Leonard.

Following is from the book "Missouri - It's People & It's Progress" by Earla A. Collins & Albert F. Elsea:

Presbyterians: A man by the name of Stephen Hempstead, who beame a member of the Presbyterian Church in 1787, came to St. Louis from Connecticut and lived in Missouri for several months before he heard a sermon preached.  He was very anxious to have a minister of his denomination come to Missouri.  His efforts and those of his friends finally received recognition, and Soloman Giddings was sent from Hartford, Connecticut, to be the minister for this group.  He rode the twelve hundred miles on horseback, leaving Hartford in December, 1815, and arriving in St. Louis on April 6, 1816.  He held the first services for the Presbyterians in that section of the state, if not in the entire state.

The first church organized by the Presbyterians was at Bellevue Settlement in Washington County in August, 1816.  The first Protestant church in St. Louis was organized by the Presbyterians in 1817, with only nine members.   A mission called Harmony was formed in 1820, near the lines of Bates and Vernon counties.  It's object was to work among the Osage Indians.


Following is from the book "Missouri, Day by Day" Vol. I, by State Historical Society of Missouri:

August 3, 1816, Giddings organized the first Presbyterian church in Missouri at Bellevue settlement in Washington county, now Caledonia.  In April 1841 its name was changed to Bellevue church. 

 

Pictures of Bellevue Presbyterian Cemetery

 

 

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