In 1831, the pioneer families of Enoch Enloe Sr. and Lamon Short decided to settle near the area that eventually became Russellville after a wheel broke from one of their covered wagons.
Four years later, several families gathered on a nearby farm to establish the community’s first church. The Baptist congregation then moved to an area known as Belleville and helped establish several churches in the area.
A manuscript church record indicates that on June 27, 1835, local settlers gathered to formalize the formation of a congregation that would initially be known as the Cold Spring Baptist Church, receiving its name from a source of the region.
The record reads: “As per an earlier meeting, a number have gathered at Brother (Jacob) Sawders for the purpose of making an alliance with the church. As we believe the scriptures clearly view this prosperity of God’s people living together in a church covenant, giving to one another and to the Lord.
It was at this meeting that 15 “Articles of Faith” and 12 “Rules of Decorum” were adopted for the nascent church and signed by John A. Langdon, Levi Roark, James Marcy, William Small and Louis Shelton.
In an article written by Bruce Murphy and published in the Russellville News on November 2, 1978, he explained: “The first church was erected on a farm now owned by Mr. George Rhodes. The building faced south and had two south doors, one for men and one for women.
Murphy further explained that the original church building had a door at each end where African Americans, during a period associated with slavery and segregation, entered the building and worshiped alongside other members of the community.
Three years after the church was founded in 1838, the nearby town of Russellville came into existence after being surveyed by land developer and merchant Buckner Russell.
The period of the Civil War was unnerving for many living near the church, as many joined companies of the Missouri militia enlisted in support of the Union, while bushwhackers’ activity remained an issue. constant threat. The role of the war on the state of the congregation is uncertain as there are no parish registers from this period.
“So much information we have comes from the family records of the descendants of the founding members,” reveals a note written in one of the church’s history books.
Oral histories passed down from generation to generation indicate that the archives from 1835 to 1883 perished in a fire with no further details available. However, many businesses in nearby downtown Russellville were burned to the ground in a major fire in 1883, and records are believed to have been kept there at one of the businesses owned by a member of the church.
The church became an inspiration in the creation of other church bodies, Pleasant Hill being organized by Cold Spring Church in 1881. Several years later, in 1888, the Mount Olive Baptist Church south of Russellville was created with the help of members from Cold Springs.
“In 1889, the current site was chosen and a new building started”, reveal the parish registers. “Part of the old building was used for the construction of the (new) building. The records add: “The building was completed in May 1890 and was inaugurated on September 28, 1890.”
The site of the new church building was located in the declining community of Belleville on property donated by Andrew Jackson Leslie. The name of the church was eventually changed to Cole Springs Baptist Church, inspired by its location in Cole County. As a gift for the new Cole Spring location, the First Baptist Church in Jefferson City donated its pulpit to the congregation.
Belleville, which was founded around 1880 in the hope that the railroad would build a depot there, was located along the Route Nationale V and was once home to a blacksmith’s shop, general store, and houses. The city failed to develop when the railroad depot was established near Russellville.
The rural church made headlines in the St. Louis Post Dispatch on October 4, 1897. It was reported: “Two young men, almost 21… worshiping at Cole Spring Baptist Church near Russellville…. “
The newspaper added: “The preacher had them arrested and they pleaded guilty in court. Their parents refused to pay their fines because they thought the boys needed to be punished.
Over the next several years, services continued without major distractions, and the congregation helped establish the Russellville Baptist Church in 1903, followed by the Corticelli Baptist Church in 1905.
There is a pause in church records between early October 1918 and April 1919, revealing a suspension of monthly business meetings and worship services. It was during this period in US history that not only did World War I end, but the spread of the Spanish flu inspired closures of places of worship around the world.
On August 29, 1937, Cole Spring celebrated its centenary (two years late), which drew over 500 people. The main speaker at the celebration was Congressman William Lester Nelson, from Bunceton.
Theological author Eddie Gibbs wrote: “Old churches are not just to be monuments of the past, but spiritual grandparents who have invested in the future by passing their lives on to others and releasing their offspring for the future. form new congregations.
Cole Spring Baptist Church, although a small congregation, has weighed heavily on its spiritual influence over the decades by helping to establish other congregations. Its doors, although creaking with a small age, remain open to the community and continue to welcome everyone to worship as it has for nearly two centuries.
Jeremy P. Ämick writes a series of articles on the history of the Russellville area in honor of Missouri’s bicentennial.