A few days ago, we posted about the demise of Cross Baptist Church in Perry County, Illinois, and the destruction of the church’s minutes and other church records. We commented that buildings in rural areas oftentimes don’t have a viable adaptive re-use and, unfortunately, sometimes have to be demolished. (We shouldn’t forget Winston Churchill’s famous observation, though: “We build our buildings and then they build us.”) However, the conscious destruction of church records — records which often are the best or only source of “living history” of an individual or family besides census records — is inexcusable. There always are alternatives to protect and preserve records and artifacts.
Cindy Nehrkorn Abbott read the post and thought readers might be interested in more of the history of Cross Baptist Church and nearby Brown Cemetery. Cindy and her family were once among Cross Church’s longtime members. The church was where Cindy learned to play piano and where she was church pianist for many years. She brings her childhood memories; stories told her by her prolific story-teller father, George Nehrkorn; and her love of family, genealogy, and history to her remembrances.
First, Brown Cemetery: A family named Brown once owned most of the property in the area where the church stood and cemetery stands. Cindy speculates that the Browns probably donated land for the church and cemetery. The cemetery, even though right across from the church, never was affiliated with it. The community in that area came to be called Cross. North about a mile and a half, on White Walnut Road, once sat Cross School. Cindy said some of her Dad’s Nehrkorn siblings attended Cross School.
The original Cross Church burned down sometime in the 1930s (exact date?). The eldest Nehrkorn boy, Paul, helped build the new church. (Paul Nehrkorn was killed in World War II.) The basement of the new church was put in at a later date. The extension on the back of the church was constructed around 1972. Cindy notes that “before that, we were still using the outdoor facilities, one for the men and one for the women.”
Cindy shared the names of some of the people, in addition to the Nehrkorns, in our extended family, who attended Cross Baptist Church:
- Enoch F. and Cora Gregory Logan family, including son, John A. Logan, and spouse, Flora E. Jenkel Logan, all buried at Brown Cemetery
- George Nehrkorn family (George was the son of Chris Nehrkorn and Clara Stella Gass Nehrkorn.)
- Kate Gass Williamson’s family (Kate was the daughter of Benjamin Gass and Martha Logan Gass.)
- Merwin and Caroline Gass’s — “Mug” and “Tootsie” — family (Merwin Gass was the son of Ben Gass and Martha Logan Gass.)
- Bob Nehrkorn family (Son of Chris and Clara Stella Gass Nehrkorn)
- Larry and Sherry Goldman (Larry is the son of Clara B. Nehrkorn Goldman and Louis Charles Goldman.)
- Carl and Vickie Goldman (Carl is Larry’s brother.)
Thanks much, Cindy.