Saturday, May 07, 2005

Sunday-go-to-meeting best (Mt. Carmel)

A Mount Carmel Sunday school class of about 1905. Boys in the front row are Newt Hupp (left) and Elmer Smith. In the second row (from left) are Nellie Redlingshafer, Daisy Myers, teacher Maggie Hupp, May Schreck and Minnie Hupp. Back row (from left) are Grace Smith, Addie Gookin and Harriet Myers.

Used to be, come any occasion when it was necessary to get all dressed up, the term for it was putting on your Sunday-go-to-meeting best. That was back in the day when nearly every one went to meeting (to Church) on Sunday morning, freshly bathed on Saturday night and as well dressed as possible. In the Benton Township neighborhood known as Myers, the church nearly everyone went to was Mount Carmel.
This is a Mount Carmel Sunday school class photo dating from about 1905, and obviously everyone has dressed up for this photographic occasion, too.

Mt. Carmel was not just for Myers, of course, but the family church of the George Redlingshafers, Hupps, Smiths, Schrecks and many other families. But it was built on Myers land and my great-grandfather, Daniel Myers the first, was its principal carpenter, so we claim it. When it came time to haul the church away many years after it was built, a Myers/Hupp cousin, Walter Relph, moved it east then around the corner and north up the other side of the Chariton River for use as a farm building. It's still there in sadly reduced form.

Mount Carmel originally was located midway between the Daniel Myers and John Myers farmsteads on the north side of the road, a quarter mile or so east of Myers School. Murray and Lucille Funk have lived on the old John Myers farm for many years, and the church was just up the road west of their home. All of the other landmarks are gone.

The Mount Carmel congregation originally was United Evangelical. The Chariton Patriot reported on Nov. 1, 1882, that "The Evangelical associates will soon have in complete, a fine new church in the Myers neighborhood; will be dedicated on the 19th of Nov. There will also be quarterly meeting held at the same time, commencing on Friday evening and continuing over Sabbath."

And on Nov. 29, 1882, The Patriot reported: "The good people in the Jacob Myers neighborhood in Benton township dedicated a new church last Sunday. John Clouser, of Lincoln, who was present, managed to exchange overcoats with some unknown person. He wants to trade back, as the one he got away with is too small."

As the years passed, the United Evangelical denomination merged with the United Brethren in Christ to form the Evangelical United Brethren and that denomination eventually was swallowed whole by the Methodist Episcopals to form the United Methodist Church. Long before it would have become by default United Methodist, however, the Mount Carmel congregation faded, was resuscitated briefly as a community church and finally passed into history.

So that leaves photos like this as the principal reminders of it. In the photograph, Sunday school teacher Maggie Hupp is seated in the center. The boys in the front row are Newt Hupp (left) and Elmer Smith. Girls in the second row are (from left) Nellie Redlingshafer, Daisy Myers, (Maggie Hupp), May Schreck and Minnie Hupp. In the back row are (from left) Grace Smith, Addie Gookin and Harriet Myers.

Daisy (Myers) Ream and Harriet (Myers) Reynolds were my great-aunts. All of the Hupps, Nellie Redlingshafer, Addie Gookin and May Schreck were cousins.

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