|Restoration Movement Scenes Around Hannibal, Missouri|
One of the towns in Missouri to receive the old time gospel during the early years of the Restoration Movement was Hannibal. This little community sits on the banks of the Mississippi River. Perhaps the town is best known as the boyhood home of Samuel Clemens, better known to the world at Mark Twain (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910). Though never known as having been a member of the church of Christ, history bears out that young Samuel knew about the church, and even interacted with some of its members.
Samuel Clemens, when writing his autobiography in later years, recalled an event during his youth when working as an apprentice in a printing shop in Hannibal. He said, "Once the celebrated founder of the, at that time, new and wide-spread sect called Campbellites arrived in our village from Kentucky, and it made a prodigious excitement." He went on to explain that the preaching of the "illustrious Alexander Campbell" could not be contained in any one building because most people would be turned away. So he had to preach in the town square in the open air. Clemens said that it "was the first time in my life that I had realized what a mighty population this planet contains when you get them all together." The people decided to have the sermon printed into a pamphlet, so they raised $16 to have it done. Clemens said it was the most money they had ever seen "in one bunch" in their office. As each page had to be set out letter by letter, it was noticed at the proofing that two words had been left out, and recetting the document would take the better part of their Saturday afternoon, a time that they had planned to spend fishing and swimming. To make room for the words it was determined that in the place of "Jesus Christ," the letters "J.C.," would be substituted. When Campbell proofed the document, it was not long before he presented himself to the printer, Wales R. McCormick. He sternly rebuked him saying, "So long as you live, don't you ever diminish the Saviour's name again. Put it ALL in." So, the booklet was reprinted. Taking the preacher exactly at his word, the mischevious Wales McCormick, determined to get the last laugh, replaced the letters "J.C." with the very slang wording, "Jesus H. Christ." (see a fuller description in "Autobiography of Mark Twain," edited by Charles Neider, 1906, pgs. 90,91).
Another tie to the Restoration Movement would have been Samuel Clemens boyhood friends Barton, Sam and Will Bowen. Their parents were Captain Samuel S. and Amanda Bowen. Amanda's parents were Barton W. and Celia Stone. Clemens recalled his childhood antics and fun times with his friends on pages 72-73, 77-78 of his Autobiography. Clemen remained friends with the Bowens into adulthood. Barton and Sam were the riverboat captains who trained Samuel to be a steamboat pilot. Long after Clemens left the area he remained friendly with them through life. For more info on their relationship click here.
The church in Hannibal can run its history back to the early days of the Restoration Movement in Missouri. Reports on the work began appearing as early as 1835 in the Christian Messenger. Jacob Creath, Jr. wrote in his diary that the first contact he had with the work in Hannibal was a early as January, 1842, and that at the time the only member was Mrs. Samuel A. Bowen, (Memoirs of Jacob Creath, Jr., by P. Donan, p.133,134). In a letter dated March 21, 1843, Jacob Creath, Jr., reported in the Millennial Harbinger, that a congregation of about 14 members had been planted there under his preaching of the previous few days. (MH, 1843, p.233) Two days later he wrote to the Christian Messenger with the same information, but requested that preaching was needed there. The following year, Dr. D.T. Morton said that the congregation was planted the previous year with eight members, and that the number had risen to fifty. (MH, 1844, p.239)
As was mentioned, of the earliest members of the church in Hannibal was Mrs. Samuel A. Bowen, the daughter of Barton W. Stone. Amanda was a committed Christian. It was in her home where her esteemed father and great church leader breathed his last November 9, 1944. After Stone's death, Amanda's mother sold her Jacksonville, Illinois home and moved to Hannibal where she spent the last thirteen years of her life. Celia Stone died April 23, 1857 and was buried in the Baptist Cemetery there.
In the years that followed, the church in Hannibal saw slow but continuous grow. Jacob Creath, Jr. and T.M. Allen were regular visitors. Alexander Campbell visited there during trips in 1845 and then in 1852. By 1848 a brick meetinghouse had been established. In 1854 L.B. Wilkes became the minister, serving the church for a couple of years, then returned to preach there in the early 1860s.
In June, 2009, Tom L. Childers, C. Wayne Kilpatrick and Scott Harp visited the Mississippi River town. In preparation for the trip, contact was made with Paul Garrett who, with his wife Mary Ann, had visited and researched the work of the restoration movement in Hannibal in years past. He sent information that assisted in locating some of the original locations of where the disciple gathered in Hannibal as well as the locations of the Bowen home. Some of the pictures taken on the trip represent the locations as they were revealed through the information received.
If you are interested in following the tracks where Restoration History has take place, be sure to add Hannibal, Missouri to your travel plans.
Scenes Around Hannibal
From River Dike Back Toward Downtown Hannibal
Home Locations Of The Samuel A. Bowen Family
Old Baptist Cemetery
Special Thanks: To Paul Garrett for helping to provide information on the RM related locations in Hannibal. It made our efforts so much easier when travelling through in June, 2009. Also, thanks to Wayne Kilpatrick and Tom Childers for providing great photos for this page.
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