Weaubleau Congregational Christian Church
Note: Most of the items on this page were copied from records found in the church in June 2005. Services continue to be held in the church each Sunday.
1867 - 1960
WEAUBLEAU CONGREGATIONAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH
by Eugene Harryman, Weaubleau, Mo.
In 1867, just after the Civil War, John Whitaker, a young and enthusiastic pastor of a small Christian group, proposed the building of a two story brick house to be used by the church for religious and educational purposes. After much delay and sacrifice, a house was built; it being 26 x 40 feet and two stories high, the first story being used for a chapel and the second for an academy.
When the walls were nearly finished, the second story was blown down in a wind storm, causing quite a hitch in the re-building of the school. The corner stone was finally laid in July, 1869 and by October, 1871 a school was started by the same pastor with six students. Such was the beginning of the old Christian Institute and College at Weaubleau, Missouri.
For several years, the old Christian Institute, sometimes called to "Old Brick," struggled for existence. Yet for twenty years the school honored God and benefited man. More and more students found their way to the halls of this great school, and after twenty years, a new commodious ten room structure was finished and ready for occupancy by the fall term of 1893. It was just four hundred yards northwest of the Old Brick and away from the business center.
Before the college was finished, the town began to grow and expand, but only gradually until the Kansas City, Osceola, and Southern Railroad, later called "Frisco," came in August, 1898. This put new life and brought new people into the town. The "Iron Horse" with its magic speed came and went with its cargoes of mail, passengers and merchandise twice daily. Thirty years had passed since the doors of the school were thrown open to the youth of the country. Another was to supercede the one which founded the school, yet the school survived and prospered.
Almost two thousand students had received instruction here. Twenty three classes with an aggregate of near eighty young men and women graduated from this school. Weaubleau College had furnished superintendents or principals for many grade and high schools, besides college and academy instructors, not only throughout Missouri, but Oklahoma Territory, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Iowa.
The various professions and business college had among their leading representatives, students from the Weaubleau Christian College. John Whitaker, the founder, being president of the Board of Trustees twenty five of the first thirty years of the school's progress.
The Weaubleau Christian Institute, once known as the "Old Brick," was located in the southwest part of Hickory County on a beautiful and wild prairie in a well-watered locality. When the house was built, there was but once other near it. The school was begun when but one dwelling was nearer than half a mile.
Since then, a school village grew up around the Brick and was called Weaubleau, but was known as Haren at one time, and was located one half mile west of Weaubleau. Weaubleau was an exceptional and thriving school village of three hundred progressive people, with no "dram" shops or other dens of vice, such as were often found in other towns and cities.
There was no railroad through Weaubleau, but the Kansas City, Clinton, and Springfield had a station at Collins about five miles west, and was connected by a "hook line" which met all trains twice daily. The Kansas City, Osceola, and Southern Railroad was expected to come through Weaubleau at an early date.
When the Weaubleau Christian College was in its thirtieth year, 1902-1903, the active members of the Board of Trustees were: Wm. R. Davies, President; J. P. Ware, Secretary; T. J. Tucker, W. E. Crouch, T. Durnell, I. Wiggins, John Monroe, John Whitaker, and S. W. Whitaker.
Some of the faculty included John Whitaker, professor of mental philosophy; W. D. Webber, professor of Latin and Greek; Mrs. Lula Wilson Whitaker, professor of mathematics; S. W. Whitaker, professor of education and pedagogy; Martin. C. Schricker, instructor in music and voice culture; and J. B. (Book) Orr, instructor in vocal music.
The college campus consisted of about three acres, all shaded by young maples and catalpa trees, the street being used for an athletic field. There were many valuable books and references, as well as several hundred popular works in the library, to which the students had access at no extra cost. There was also a laboratory and museum which contained useful apparatus and chemicals for experimental purposes, as well as a fine collection of minerals.
Lectures and entertainments were held at intervals through the school year with Literary and Social activities at the end of each term. The three major degrees were Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Accounts, and Master's Degree.
The expenses in those wonderful college days were quite interesting too, for instance—board, room, fuel, and light, per week was $2.00. Tuition 10 to 12 weeks was $7.00-$8.00-$9.00, spring, fall, and winter months. Lessons on piano, organ, violin or other instruments were 50¢, 10 vocal lessons for $1.00. By doing their own cooking, students could reduce their expenses to $1.00 a week.
Even after the new college was completed, the old Brick's usefulness was not ended, for the Literary and Endeavor Societies were held there, as well as church and Sunday School and other organizations.
And so, after serving the elements of time, the "Old Brick" was razed and replaced by a modern edifice in 1910. It was called the Christian (Brick) church. Many of the original bricks were used in this structure.
Today and four generations after the "Old Brick" was organized by the young enthusiast, John Whitaker, the church still stands, and is known as the Christian Congregational Church. It merged with the Congregationalists about 1936. It, too, has weathered the years, surviving two draughts, one in 1934-1936, and in recent years, 1952-1954. It, like many buildings, settled and cracked, but was put in good order by members of the same religious faith as that of the same people who organized the church.
In those early years of the Christian Institute, the students set out beautiful shade trees, and a few of them are still standing today. They have taken much punishment from ice storms and draughts in recent years, but they still have much color in the fall of the year. [Photo at left taken in 1983; tree has since been removed due to disease.]
Now that we have learned something of the "Old Brick", let us see what has become of the Weaubleau Christian College. First, we want to remember that Prof. John Whitaker was still head of it in 1902-1903, as I have mentioned earlier, and continued until his retirement, or when his son, C. S. Whitaker, took over in the autumn of 1906.
Dr. Fredrick Cooper, D. D. minister, who graduated from Kansas Christian College in the spring of 1906, (now deceased) was under C. S. Whitaker for about a year. In August, 1907 he was called to take charge of the college, as Mr. Whitaker was to supply Union Christian College at Merom, Indiana. Dr. Cooper continued with the church and college work until August 1913, when he was called to Palmer College at Albany, Missouri as dean and College pastor. Mr. Whitaker took over and held school at least one year, 1913-1914. After standing idle for a time, or until about 1917-1918, the college building was then used for a four year high school, Mr. Whitaker being one of the first teachers. It was used for this purpose until the fall of 1932, when it was destroyed by fire. The school term was finished in the various churches about town.
It was about this time that the college grounds were turned over to the Weaubleau School District and a new and modern one story school was build and ready for the fall and winter term of 1932-1933. After many years of service, this building also went up in flames December 5, 1957 and the students again had to finish the school term in the various churches. Just a year to the day, December 5, 1958, school was again restored in another new, modern, one story structure, taking care of both high and grade school children.
After the death of Mrs. Annette Whitaker, widow of the late O. B. Whitaker, las of May, 1954 members of the Congregational Christian Church had permission to take the books that once lined the shelves of the old Institute and College. They accepted the challenge and much of the library was moved to its new location. It will be preserved and kept in memory of the "Old Brick" which was first organized in 1867.
In looking through the books of the old library, a member found a sheet of onion paper neatly folded. On it were several verses written by the late S. W. Whitaker who was once a student and teacher in the old Institute and College. With the consent of Mrs. S. W. Whitaker, the writer dedicates these verses in memory of the Weaubleau Christian Institute and College.
[Link to Membership Register, ca. 1937-1996]
The merriest o'er whom our flag unfurls,
Is surely a ground of happy girls.
You may search the land, parlor to Flagon;
But find true happiness in a lumber wagon.
If filled with girls to its utmost might,
Who are driving out on a star light night,
To church or lecture, speech or something - -
To anything at all, or nothing.
There is music in their merry laugh - -
The finest band it beats by half.
The snatches of songs in wild discords,
With diverse tunes and different words - -
And when by chance some tone prevails,
Some tune rings out o'er hills and dales,
As fifteen voices, clear and strong,
Ring out through the woods as they drive along.
It would touch the heart of a listener, though
He be frosty and cold as the winter snow.
Of happy girls there is many a band;
But ours are the truest in all the land.
With cultured mind and woman heart --
Each in life's battles will play a part.
Though they will go out to their own little worlds
We will always be proud of our '98 girls.
Signed: S. W. Whitaker, Nov. 5, 1898
1877: M. F. Butler, Mrs. T. L. Cooley Redford, W. J. Hawkins.
1878: A. L. Lacy, J. H. Logan, J. E. Barber, J. L. Young
1885: J. S. Snidow
1886: G. A. Whelock, Mrs. Minnie Whitaker, E. L. Butler
1887: G. W. Lemon, A. L. Smith, T. B. Marquis, R. W. Tucker, J. O. Birch, J. W. Russell, Laura O. Whitaker
1888: J. A. Woodford, O. B. Whitaker, W. W. Tharp
1889: Charles W. Pharis
1890: B. F. Tucker
1891: John D. Riley
1892: W. L. Helton, W. A. McMahan, W. A. Whitaker
1893: J. E. Bradley, J. V. Knight, W. N. Riley, J. M. Murphy, T. S. Roman, Mrs. Delia Whitaker, Mrs. Mattie Bishop, _____ Butler
1894: J. H. Holt, Cyrus Paxton, G. W. Davies, S. W. Whitaker
1895: H. H. Rogers, W. C. Scott, Theo. Pruet, Elmer Tucker, G. E. Holt, J. S. Whitaker, Miss Ella Holt, Miss Cora Arnold, _____ Mills
1896: J. T. McCracken, Myrtle Lindsey-Tucker
1897: E. G. Wright, Mrs. Maud Estes-Lively, Mrs. Bell Lester-Livesay, Miss Eva Wiggins, Miss Edna Jordan, S. J. Vaughn, A. S. Enon
1898: D. M. Diemer, O. F. Pruet, R. W. Spaur, F. D. Glore
1899: Miss Emily Back
1900: A. M. Gentry, Arthur Davis, W. E. Tharp, Sada Fitzpatrick
1901: C. E. Lewellin, Edna Howard, Effie Whitaker
1897: J. B. Lively, J. E. Brown, J. S. Whitaker, Miss Mary Nelson
1899: Miss Ethel Bard
1900: Miss Laura Pace
The Christian (Congregational) Church of Weaubleau, Missouri, has gone through many changes, not from outside appearances so much; but from within. Within heart and spirit of the people themselves. O. B. Whitaker was the pastor of the church for many years and as years passed, other ministers took his place. One might recall some of the ministers of those early years: Jessie M. Kauffman, Pat Chancelor, John Simms, Albert Godby, Dr. Fredrick Cooper, Thomas T. Crance, _____ Suiter, _____ Garland, and many others. In later years, Marvin Williams 1934-37, and as he was called to another church a series of meetings were held by Rev. Waterman, Millard and our present minister, Rev. C. H. Evers. A meeting of the board was called and out of it, came good tidings, for a minister was born. A young layman, J. H. Moore, was called to act as lay minister and by the spring of 1938, was given licensed to preach. In the following year he was ordained, then he, like others, was called to another church.
Many young ministers from Drury were called and had first hand training in the church and in later years, have made good in their profession. They were Maurice McDowell, _____ Werneka, LeRoy Stanford, Randall Teeuwen, Jack Vaughn, and Leighton Richardson. Along in these years of Drury students, Rev. C. A. Hughes of Cole Camp, Missouri, served through 1942-43.
Rev. Thomas V. Crance, who has resided in Springfield for many years and an old veteran in the ministry, became pastor of the church the second time, taking Richardson's place in the latter part of 1947. A multiple of meetings were held, 1950-51, and through the help of Dr. Fredrick Cooper (now deceased, Oct. 8, 1957) had a great part in one of the church's most needed projects.
Dr. Cooper preached a number of sermons during his short stay, helped organize the "Lord's Acre Plan" and through the sale of livestock and other articles including donations in cash by members and friends, the heating unit we now have was installed in February, 1951.
Rev. Z. Willard Gunckel of Lebanon, Missouri was called and was a part time minister for awhile in 1954, and on a later date the same year, Wm. Bradshaw of the same address and now a full time minister in the East, served the church full time for a few months. In 1955 the church was again without a minister--and through the help of the state minister, Dr. W. W. Towle of St. Louis, Rev. C. H. Evers came to the rescue. He and his good wife are still part of the church.
ONE HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY
The Weaubleau Christian (Congregational) church celebrated its one hundredth year, December, 1957. Dr. W. W. Towle, state minister of St. Louis, delivered the morning message and the dedication service was by Dr. E. Willard Gunckel of Lebanon, Missouri. Much of the history of the church is in the hands of Eugene Harryman, church clerk, and a part of it was presented before the public during the afternoon services. The one hundredth anniversary should be remembered by all who were concerned--and the church should be thankful to have had such an event. May God bless those that helped in making it so.
* * * * * * *
I AM THE WEAUBLEAU CONGREGATIONAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH
by Berneta Sherman, Reed Springs, MO
ca. October 1992
I am the Weaubleau Congregational Christian Church of Weaubleau, Missouri, sometimes referred to as "The Brick" or "Whitaker Church." I do not object to any of these titles.
1910 was my birthday, and I was born on the site of the Weaubleau Christian Institute, as it was being razed, I was being born.
In my early days men of note ministered from my pulpit--namely John Whitaker, Oliver Whitaker, and Dr. Cooper to name a few.
My doors were open to all. My bell rang loud and clear on Sunday mornings calling my flock to Sunday school, to church, and Christian Endeavor. My bell also tolled at the close of funeral services for my members.
At Christmas time my nave was graced by a tall cedar tree laden with gifts, a Christmas program was always held--giving my children their chance to be "on stage," and the choir sang beautiful carols. At the close of the program "Santa" (namely--Charles Brookshire) would appear through a window in the room off my main chancel to distribute gifts. Once while his granddaughter Kathy, in her treble voice, was singing "Santa's coming, Santa's coming"--Santa didn't come. Santa was stuck in the window. Children of my flock remembered these events long afterwards.
I watched the village of Weaubleau grow and prosper--a village of churches and God-fearing people; a community interested in educating its young and providing educational facilities to the best of its abilities.
Many new babies were introduced to religion within my walls and later professed their faith at my altar and were baptized in my baptistry--better known as the Weaubleau Creek. Sometimes these believers braved cold winds and temperatures, even breaking ice to fulfill the symbol of their faith.
Marriages were performed at my altar, starting new lives with my blessing.
I have also presided over final services for many of my members, eulogizing those members and reaching out to comfort those I've known and loved so long.
In many quiet moments of my life I have received and listened as a silent and thoughtful one coming back home for a visit stepped inside my door, and for a few peaceful and serene moments offered a prayer or simply stood remembering other days and other times and other generations--and I then saw them leave with a lighter step.
As opportunity called so many of my flock to leave and seek wider fields--my membership and financial support waned. It looked for a time as if my doors would have to close, but due to the generosity of a member of the Whitaker family, money was provided for my repair and restoration. Once more a faithful few sing hymns of praise and thankfulness, and the gospel goes forth from my pulpit.
I give thanks that I have been an instrument that has helped to bring hope and promise from the Word of God, touching the lives of many.
In the words of the Poet--"Bless this house Oh Lord I Pray!"
* * * * * * *
Note: Typed and posted by Ginny Sharp. Photo of ladies on church steps found in photo album belonging to Frieda Brookshire Shelton, who is buried in adjacent cemetery.
See also the MEMBERSHIP REGISTER by following this link.
Return to PHOTO PAGE or HOME PAGE