Audrain County Churches

History of Mt. Olivet Church Traces Back to Early 1800s

By Mrs. Hattie Davis

Copied from Mexico Weekly Ledger Jan. 21, 1954 p3 c6 & 7

Vandalia-Several years before the town of Vandalia was started, the vicinity now known as the Mt. Olivet Community was settled. One of the remaining landmarks showing an early date is that of a burial lot just south of the Barney Bridge over Cuivre River, in which are two graves with head stones showing burial dates of 1849 and 1850. They are the graves of a Mrs. Adams and an infant.

The West Cuivre Church was organized in 1843, and was succeeded in 1845 by the organization of the Mt. Olivet Presbyterian Church. The session book of the church contains minutes of the organization and is dated June 15, 1845. Historical data in a history of the churches of the Hannibal Presbytery states that the first services were held in a log school house near Barneyville and there was no church building until 1863. The present building which is a neat frame building some eight miles south of Vandalia, was erected in 1905.

Some of the early elders of the church were William Middleton, Stephen Ingram, James Heaton and Arthur Percy.

Throughout the history of the church it has been without a pastor only two years and that was in 1922 and 1924. The pastors have been William W. Crocket, George Rice, Cyrus McDonald, Ephraim P. Pharr, J.G. Rodgers, Martin D. Hudson, Harvey M. Boyd, George A. Middleton, James R. Patton, E.L. Uptegrove, H.P. Ingram, W.H. Jones, W.T. Roley, Hay Bell, J.B. White, J.G. House, A.R. Allison, G.M.C. Oakes, R.M. Wimmell, J.L. Coleman, J.L. Sawyer, M.H. Keeler, Francis Henderson, J.M. McHaffy and T.S. Hickman, who is the present pastor. Some of these ministers served the church as pastor more than the one time and the Rev. Ephraim Pharr was pastor four different times.

The names of some of the families of the church and community through the years have been Douchant, Tuggle, DeTienne, Fisher, Sobolewski, Saxe, House, Maskey, Barnes, Hickerson, Herlinger, Potter, Barney, Middleton, Branstetter, Adams, Hoffmeyer, Seeleys, Harmons, and many others.

Mt. Olivet has given seven sons to the ministry, George Rice, Jesse G. Rogers, Cyrus McDonald, Henry P. Ingram and S. Addison Saxe who entered the Presbyterian ministry and William and Harold Butts who became methodist ministers.

The Church celebrated its 100th anniversary July 28, 1945, in two days of fellowship and worship.

The setting of the church is in the edge of a wooded area, making it seem a "Church in the Wildwood". Adjoining it on the north is the cemetery where former members and friends have a final resting place. Some of the markers show an early date of the passing of those interred.

The present session is made of Roy Barnes, Clerk; Albert Barnes, C.F. Barney, Earl Butts, Vernie Hall, J.B. Jerman and Francis Hoffmeyer. Deacons are Louie Butts, Howard Barney and Harry Lee Teague.

Mt. Olivet has one of the best rural Sunday Schools in Audrain County and takes an active interest in the Audrain County Council of Churches. Recently the following officers and teachers for the Sunday School for 1954 were elected. Ernest Cahill, superintendent; James Heaton, assistant superintendent; Mrs. Frances Hoffmeyer, treasurer; Mrs. John Jerman, assistant treasurer; Shirley Maskey, secretary; Roger Barney, assistant secretary; Mrs. Vernie Hall, pianist; Mrs. Ernest Cahill, assistant song leader; Vera Pease, librarian; with Virginia Teague, assistant librarian.

Teachers; Kindergarten class, Mrs. Vernie Hall and Mrs John Jerman; Primary class, Mrs. Henry Lee Teague and Mrs. Howard Teague; Wide Awake Class, Mrs. Floyd Lewis and Mrs. Robert Jerman; Willing Workers Class, Mrs. John Maskey and Mrs. James Heaton; Busy Bee Class, James Heaton and Howard Barney; and adult class, Mrs. Gladys Douchant and Arthur Allison.

It can be noted in the above list of officers that the school has enough willing workers for each officer and teacher to have an assistant.