Back in 1870, there were five church buildings in Chariton. The Methodists and Presbyterians had by this time built in brick at locations still occupied by their spiritual descendants. The Episcopalians were just east of the square --- there's a used car lot there now. The Baptists' simple frame building backed up against the railroad tracks south of the current Legion Hall location. And the Christians (Disciples of Christ) were located on the east side of South Grand, directly across from the current location of First Baptist.
That's the Christian Church above, photographed in 1869 --- note the boardwalk, the fact the building is constructed on pilings rather than a foundation, and that there's a bell cage on top --- but no bell.
So here's the story of how the disciples got their first bell, as reported in The Chariton Democrat of April 5, 1870, under the headline, "New Church Bell." Note, too, the length of the sentences in this dispatch --- it might be called "breathless reporting."
"It will be remembered that on the occasion of Rob't Morris's lecture here, last fall, upon what he saw in the Holy Land, the Methodists refused to open their church to him, his lecture being for the benefit of the Masonic Lodge at this place, notwithstanding the fact that members of that church had a week or two before that time received with open arms a man who pretended to be a 'reformed drunkard,' who was delivering temperance lectures, but who was really an ex-penitentiary convict, and who was shortly afterwards arrested in Monroe county for stealing money. The action of the Methodists, in this instance, was a rebuke to the Masons, and they went to the authorities of the Christian church, who very cheerfully, and without hesitation gave the use of their church room for the lecture, and now come the Masons, in a spirit of liberality, and have donated to the Christian church, a bell worth $160, in acknowledgment of the courtesy extended to Mr. Morris, and through him to the Masonic fraternity. It is an acknowledgement very appropriate in its character, one of which the church has reason to feel proud, and one that should teach certain illiberal, bigoted and fatantical persons a lesson that might be worth remembering."
That issue of The Democrat was heavy on church news and in it we also learn that the Baptists were having trouble with their preacher:
"The misunderstanding that has so long existed between the members of the Baptist church, and their pastor, Mr. Livermore, culminated on Sunday, Mr. Livermore, in accordance with a request of the trustees, resigning the charge. Much feeling exists between the parties, but we believe it is confined to themselves, and we presume they are capable of adjusting their own affairs, without public comment as to the merits or demerits of the parties to the quarrel."
And finally, my favorite report --- from the Freedom Methodist congregation out in Warren Township and involving a couple of those troublesome Tuttles:
"Disturbing Religions Meeting --- A party of young men, amongst whom were two named Tuttle, created a disturbance at a meeting in a school house near Freedom, on Sunday, by attempting to play cards in front of the pulpit. Papers have been issued for their arrest."