Doubtless the very oldest church organization in Northeast Missouri — certainly the first formed in Marion county — is South River Church, in this township. It was constituted in the year 1821, and formed then, as it does now, a congregation of the Primitive or Old School Baptists. Some of the first or constitutional members were Hawkins Smith, Thos. Lewis, John Longmire, Zachariah Feagan, Benjamin Thomas, James Lear, Polly Lear, Sally Feagan, and Elizabeth Smith. For some time the congregation met in the houses of the members, but in 1826 ( ?), a small log church was built near a large spring, on South river, on section 12, tp. 57, range 6, near where the present Hannibal and St. Joseph railroad crosses that stream. This building was erected by contributed labor and material, and its cost was nominal. It was the first church building erected in Marion county. The first pastor of the congregation was Rev. Mordecai Boulware, the second Wm. Fuqua. The names of all of the succeeding pastors cannot be given. Rev. Wm. Priest, of Ralls county, is the present preacher in charge. The present church building of South River Church is a brick and stands on the banks of South river, in section 11, tp. 57, range 6, three miles south of Palmyra. It was built in 1868, at a cost of $3,000. The first sermon preached in it was by Henry Louthan. In the division of the Baptist church, in 1835, South River church separated from the Missionary “Sunday School,” and “Means party,” as the New School Baptists were termed, and remained with the old Primitive church, believing that the employment of missionaries, Sunday schools, and other agencies of that sort as auxiliaries in evangelizing the world, and making the unregenerate fit subjects for the Messiah’s Kingdom, was and is unauthorized by the Bible. At present (September, 1883,) the number of members of the church is but 10.

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