New Design Baptist Meeting House, built
1832, Monroe County Illinois
David Badgley: PIONEER MINISTER IN THE ILLINOIS
By LYN ALLISON YEAGER, as
published in Foundations: A Baptist Journal of History and Theology, Volume XX
No. 3, 1977.
(It should be noted that I have scanned and excerpted this
article and provide it without permission of the author who I've been
unsuccessful at reaching through many efforts to correspond with her and
her publisher. I hope and believe she'd support this sharing. It's a loving
and caring account of a man who did a lot, and who was controversial.
There is some sadness here.
Iman readers should note the important role Abraham Eyman
had as a scout for the migration described here. He played a key role
in advance, and in describing Illinois to the Hardy settlers. He's thought
to have been the last of the returnees from the original expedition --
so committed to the place that he'd picked land and planted crops. There
are related stories. Half the people on this expedition perished. It's
not known for sure whether or not, or how many Eymans were in the large
There have been controversies about the faith of Imans.
Sometimes they've been described as "dunkers" (German Baptists)
or Brethren. Many of the Conestoga Eymans were Mennonite or Reformed.
Readers of this account may want to know that Abraham <1767> was
a member of the "Lemen church" described here long after the
turn of the century. Northwest Imans will be interested in the appearance
of the legiondary William Whiteside -- Indian fighter who protected settlers.
Christian Iman, the father of Felix Grundy, married Mary Whiteside, the
grand daughter of this William, and the son of Davis Whiteside.)
THE GROWTH OF A PEOPLE CALLED
BAPTISTS in America accelerated after 1740 in the wake of religious revivals
known as the Great Awakening. Better prepared than more traditional churches
for the separation of church and state, Baptists thrived in an environment of
religious freedom. As the pioneer population gradually migrated westward,
Baptists moved with the tide. One Baptist from Virginia was to organize and
become the pastor of the first Baptist church to be located in the Illinois
David Badgley, son of Anthony
and Ruth Badgley, was born in Westfield, New Jersey, on November 5, 1749. In
1768 the family moved to Virginia. David married Rhoda Valentine in 1769 and
reared a large family on his three hundred acres of Virginia land in Hampshire
County, which later became Hardy County. Census records show that David owned
a house and three other buildings. Descendants say that one of those buildings
was a foundry. David owned no slaves. His hard-working farmer's life was
directed by an active mind. He listened to ministers, considered all he heard
and accepted some of it. In 1775 David Badgley was baptized by Elder William
Marshall at the Lunies Creek Baptist Church in Hampshire County on the south
branch of the Potomac River in the Lord Fairfax Manor. The following year
(1776) Badgley was set apart by his church as a "lay‑elder."
The early Baptist ‑churches considered the lay‑elder as a necessary
appendage to the office of the pastor. It was not exactly a presbyterian idea,
for these lay‑elders exercised no authority in government. They took part
in conducting religious meetings by prayer and exhortation, visiting the sick,
and other like services and were considered as having official liberty to visit
other churches and destitute settlements.
Soon David began to preach.
Although he lacked formal theological education, Badgley accepted preaching
opportunities because he felt the need for personal, spiritual fulfillment and
had a willingness to help others. Through a practical learning experience he
developed an effective ministry and his congregations looked up to him. He was
not an ordained minister in the 1770's or 1780's, but because pastors were few,
the people liked to worship and study the Bible together, and needed a pastor,
he was called to minister.
By 1790 Badgley was pastor of
a United Baptist Church outside of Hardy. Preachers traveled a lot in those
days. That church had been organized in 1788 and received into the fellowship
of the Orange District Association of the United Baptist Churches, despite the
fact that the group had not yet adopted a confession of faith. The Baptists who
then were using the name "United" were striving for unity between
varied groups of Baptists. When this union was finally achieved, the name
United Baptists was adopted. Their basic belief was that salvation was "by
Christ and free unmerited grace alone." In 1795 David Badgley was ordained
into the ministry by the United Baptists. On May 17 of that year, using his new
legal privilege, he united in marriage five couples in Hardy, County.
The Rev. Mr. Badgley believed
the principal Baptist doctrines as adopted and printed by the Baptists of
Virginia in 1773. Those beliefs were the most important guidelines of his life
and they became vital to him as he grew older. His early ministry was aggressive.
Aggression is often encroachment, but in David Badgley's case the encroachment
was for good. He became respected, not only by his own congregation, but by his
community. To compensate for his lack of theological training, Badgley studied
diligently. He read all available materials and considered carefully what he
read. He discussed and argued with other ministers. He prayed for guidance and
believed in and practiced "sincere piety."
The Virginia Baptists, like
other pioneers, were impelled by land hunger to penetrate the West. They heard
intriguing tales of the Illinois country so they asked Badgley if he would lead
a group of men to investigate that country's possibilities as productive land.
Badgley consented. He was accompanied on the journey by "Leonard Carr,
Abraham Stookey, Daniel Stookey, Abraham Iman, Solomon Shook, a Mr. Whetstone, a Mr. Borrer and
others," including Badgley's son, Aaron, a flour miller. The long and
difficult journey was made on horseback. Protection from the hazards of the
trip required close grouping and cooperation. Indian attacks were a prominent
danger. Nevertheless, those rugged mountain men were equal to the task.
Carrying their hunting and camping supplies and food staples, they set out.
Each man wore a general, all purpose garment called a hunting shirt. This was a
kind of loose frock, reaching half way down to the thighs, with large sleeves,
open before, and so wide as to lap over a foot or more when not belted."
10 That extra space served to hold food, rope, and bullet bag. The shirt was
made of deer skin or linsey. Thus attired, on May 4, 1796, those Virginians
arrived near St. Louis:
In the low Illinois land
across the Mississippi from St. Louis and cast of the river bluffs was a
community called New Design. A young Revolutionary soldier, James Lemen, from
Virginia, had formed and named the New Design Colony in 1786. The location lay
along the trail between St. Louis, Cahokia and Kaskaskia, about four miles
south of the present Waterloo, Illinois. This place had the first English‑speaking
school in Illinois. It was conducted in a log cabin "by Samuel Seely in
1783." Twelve pupils took to class whatever books their parents had. For
the study of arithmetic, the teacher composed problems on a slate.
In 1786 a foundation of
religious interest had been laid on this frontier by James Smith, a Kentucky
preacher, who conducted services in the settlers' homes. After returning to
Kentucky for a few months, Smith preached in Illinois in 1787 and again in 1790.
During one of the services there was an Indian attack. A woman was killed, a
man was wounded, and Smith was taken captive. Although he was ransomed and
released, Smith never cared to make Illinois his home; so he returned to
By 1793 more settlers had
arrived at New Design, and in 1794 a minister, Josiah Dodge, preached in the
Lemen home. Dodge stayed in the community for some time visiting, preaching and
baptizing but he did not organize a church. So, when David Badgley arrived at
New Design in 1796 he was welcomed and asked to preach. This he did both night
and day until May 28, when he baptized fifteen persons, 13 in Fontaine Creek,
and on the same day, aided by Joseph Chance, organized with twenty‑eight
members the first Baptist church in the history of the Illinois country. The
organizational meeting was in the home of James Lemen. The male charter
membership consisted of James Lemen, William Whiteside, Laren Rutherford, Isaac
Enochs, Joseph Griffin, John Simpson, James Gilliam, Thomas Todd, George
Valentine, Solomon Shook, Joseph Anderson, Joseph Ryan, Joseph Chance and a Mr.
Teague. As one author put it, this pioneer organization made New Design,
Illinois, "as important a name in early western Baptist history as the
name Plymouth is in the annals of the Pilgrims."
While surveying the Illinois
land, Badgley made a trip across the Mississippi to St. Louis to scout the
area. Finding himself there on a Sunday, he wished to conduct worship services.
Forbidden by the Spanish to preach on their land, Badgley took a boat out to a
small island in the river and preached there. Then he returned to the Illinois
country. He and the Virginians who scouted with him decided that the area, due
to its fertile soil, was a fine place for settlement and farming. The section
they chose later became St. Clair County.
returned to their relatives and neighbors in Virginia with a favorable report.
Community meetings were held, questions were asked, and discussions conducted.
Finally all agreed to move to the Illinois Territory. There was much
excitement, some fear, and a great deal of work to be do . Property was sold,
though some of the land owners could not rind an immediate market. The men met
to plan the methods of travel and the time of departure. The women found it
necessary to make difficult emotional decisions as to what they could bear to
leave behind. Finally, each family had organized and packed its belongings and
said good‑bye to friends and, even in some cases to relatives. The time
of departure had come. The future was unknown.
In the spring of 1797 the big
task of traveling was begun. One hundred and' fifty‑four persons ‑crossed
the mountains in wagons, on pack horses and on foot to Morgantown and the
Monongahela River." 17 The popular boat of the day for moving household
goods was the flatboat. Many of these were built in, Morgantown but it is
believed that this group went on to the little town of I Brownsville,
Pennsylvania, a river town incorporated in 1785. Brownsville's situation was
both picturesque and unique as it hung on the steep river bank. Some of the
houses were three hundred feet straight above others. There, as in Pittsburgh,
flatboat building was a flourishing industry. The Virginians decided to have
their boats built in Brownsville.
The clumsy but practical
flatboats were being constructed in amazingly large numbers This interesting
parallelogram‑shaped craft had several names: "Kentucky boat"
or "Kentucky flat," because travel along the Ohio passed the length
of Kentucky, "family boat," because whole families could travel
rather comfortable on one, "Ark," a craft reminiscent of Noah's Ark
to hold families, livestock, food, feed, furniture, farm implements, and
cooking utensils. Their sizes ranged from forty feet in length and fifteen in
width to one hundred feet in length. The covered sides were six feet in depth.
Some of them that were especially designed to carry freight could carry as much
as eight tons. These were made of plank fastened upon ribs by wooden bolts of
either black walnut, white oak, or locust wood.
The flatboat was "similar
in construction to the old wooden barge, except that it frequently was just a
big box with square ends." There were four oars, called sweeps, two on
each side, requiring four oarsmen. A long oar at the stern was used for
steering and a gouger oar was at the bow; this was a small helper oar. Oarsmen
were professionals. A boat with an open bow for animals and a shelter for a
family cost thirty-five dollars. A flatboat with a fireplace cost ten dollars
The building of the huge
boats for the large Virginia party took much longer than they had expected.
Finally, in May, they could wait no longer, as the farmers needed to plow and
plant crops on their new farms if they were to cat during the next winter.
Also, navigation of the Ohio River would be more difficult after the spring
rains ceased. The pioneers loaded their unfinished, open boats and pushed off
on the water for Illinois, "a journey of nearly 1,300 miles." The
large brigade of transports may have had some boats lashed together, due to
lack of oarsmen. Because of the shortage of time, the boats had not been
covered, so the passengers had to endure rain, wind, and sun. When evenings
came. the boats were pulled to shore, for flatboat travel could not be done in
the darkness. The trip was difficult, and when the Virginians approached the
Illinois Territory they decided to dock at Fort Massac. After selling the boats
for far less than they had paid for them, they began their overland journey.
It was the rainy season, and
the hundred‑mile trip overland took three weeks. Sometimes the weather
was very hot, the atmosphere muggy. Their provisions ran low and, due to
weariness, exposure, lack of proper food, mosquito bites', and the damp air,
many became ill. A fever epidemic took the lives of many and disheartened many
more. "Scarcely a family of all these immigrants but did not have to mourn
the loss of one or more of its number." Those colonists who survived and
remained in the Illinois country became known as respectable people, orderly and
moral. They had with them their pewter dishes and spoons, wooden bowls,
trenchers, and noggins, and iron pots, knives, and forks. They had not
forgotten to carry salt, that most important commodity. Their standard diet in
their earliest days in Illinois was hog and hominy and their bread consisted of
johnnycake or corn pone.
David Badgley, the preaching
plainsman, became the pastor of the New Design church in 1797, the year of his
group's arrival in Illinois. Life in the area was ..genuinely pioneer."
The Indians still attacked. Wild animals -- the cougar, coyote, and bear --
tried to save themselves and their places of habitation from the human
invaders. The settlers had to plow, plant, and care for crops, reap harvests,
and build homes while guarding their families. They met in each others' cabins
for church services. The minister went to meetings dressed in "buckskin,
with moccasins on his feet, shot pouch swung to his side, and the ever present
rifle on his shoulder, and preached the gospel to the few neighbors gathered
inside the log cabin while others were stationed as pickets."
The ponds, streams, and
foliage of the bottom land were beautiful but sometimes the water became
stagnant and bred mosquitos, and their bites brought serious illness among the
settlers. Because of Indians in the woods and disease in the lowlands, the country
was dangerous. Nevertheless, David Badgley, a John the Baptist of the West,
wasted no time. In the spring of 1798, he and Elders Chance and Simpson
conducted revival services in the Mississippi River bottom land near Chester.
In April they organized the Bottoms Baptist Church, so called because of its
location in the area known as the American Bottom.
In 1799 David and some others
explored area which later became Madison County. Badgley named it Goshen,
perhaps trying to claim for it the safety from plagues that‑ the
Israelites found in their Egyptian Goshen. As' usual, all of Badgley's emphasis
was biblical. The Goshen settlement became a happy and prosperous community,
though "there never was a distinct village." 23 'the location was
"just under the bluffs some four miles and a half or five miles south and
a little west of Edwardsville." 24
David's first Illinois home
was ten miles west of the present Waterloo, near Bond's Lake. He farmed and
preached and soon moved near to what is now the town O'Fallon. "He bought
400 acres of land there in 1804." On land which is now the property of
Attorney Robert Jennings, he built a log‑frame house characteristic of
the middle class houses of New Jersey and Virginia. It had a steep gable roof
upheld by log beams, dormer windows in three upstairs rooms, no porch, and at
the back a small vernada. The heating was done by fireplaces. Many years later
the little back porch was enclosed and used as a kitchen. Today the house is
badly deteriorated, having been used as a storage barn for cattle feed. The
roof of the added wing has fallen in and vines cover a large portion of the old
structure. There Rev. David Badgley lived from 1812 to the time of his death in
1824. That Illinois county, Macoupin, had only ten families in it when Illinois
became a state in 1818. David and Rhoda Badgley had a family of nine children:
Aaron, Job, David, Ichabod, Abraham, Mary, Betsy, Rachel, and Priscilla.
Anthony Badgley moved to Illinois with his brother and also reared a family.
The Rev. David Badgley was
active for the good of his new home state. On several occasions he signed
petitions to Congress for the betterment of Illinois' conditions. He tried to
keep the ever‑arguing Baptists at peace, but held one church discipline
belief steadfastly that some others of his time did not like. This was church
government by unanimous vote. Of it he said, "In all manners touching
fellowship, work by oneness.:
While David was pastor of the
New Design Church, he became ill and was unable to attend services. During his
absence, the church held a business meeting and voted (not unanimously)
thereafter to pass motions by a majority vote rather than by 'the one‑hundred
percent which had been their rule, by Badgley's advice. They also voted to
observe Communion services with their Methodist brethren.
This caused much distress
among them, and when Elder Badgley's health was restored he was called upon to
administer the Lord's Supper to the said New Design church, but refused,
believing it to be contrary to the sentiments of the United Baptists to commune
with other orders; in consequence of which he was taken under dealings by a
number of members, but a majority sustained him. He then took his letter and
put his membership in the Mississippi Bottom church.
This was in the year 1800.
In 1808, the association of
churches where Badgley worked raised a question concerning the authenticity of
Badgley's credentials as a Baptist minister authorized to baptize converts. The
associational minutes do not make clear exactly what the problem was; the notes
only state that..
"The committe adjourned
until Saterday 7 oclock Met acording to adjournment after divine worship in
inquiry to know what is to be done with David Badgley concerning his
credentials a request to take into consideration ... the motion concerning D.
Badgleys Credentials . It agreed greed that he keep them until the next meeting
of the church where he was a member ... upon the matter of David
Badgley taken up and he is
restored into fellowship on his acknowledgement. Signed by order of the
Association Jno Hendrickson Moderator Wm Whiteside."
Just what happened is not
clearly explained in those records but there were several persons in the area
jealous of Badgley's ministry. Also, some persons disagreed with his theology
but were unable to remain friendly while differing. In the next associational
meeting Rev. Badgley preached on Romans 8:9.43 teaching that believers have the
Spirit of God dwelling in them and that indwelling Spirit is the proof of their
Christianity. Evidently David Badgley was trying to illustrate from the
Scriptures the need for the Spirit of God in all persons who say that they are
Christians, and he was also trying to present the need for the evidence of that
Spirit as a criteria for judgment of himself and his critics.
Baptist associations have
always been democratic assemblies for business, worship, and fellowship. The
early Baptists, who experienced the solitude of the wilderness, found great joy
in meeting with the brethren of like faith. The first Illinois association was
planned in the home of Anthony Badgley on January 9, 1807, and organized on
June 24 of the same year. Five churches were incorporated into that first
association: New Design, Mississippi Bottom, Richland, Wood River, and Silver
Creek. Rev. David Badgley was elected moderator and preached the introductory
sermon on John 3:16. That first association' existed only two years before a
typical Baptist upheaval took place. "In 1809, James Lemen in a sermon
delivered at Richland Creek said,'I have no fellowship for slaveholders, nor
for those who fellowship with them.'"
This Mr. Lemen was in a
frontier that was becoming a melting pot where pioneers of varied cultures
mingled in an effort to accommodate to new surroundings. Though the Baptists
who went to Illinois and Indiana agreed for the most part upon the basic
matters of faith and practice, they disagreed on some other matters. It was
reported that James Lemen said in his Journal% that he was personally
acquainted with Thomas ' Jefferson and was acting as his secret agent to
prevent the Old Northwest from entering the Union as slave states. It was true
that Jefferson, though personally a slave owner and believed to he the father
of several illegitimate children by his slave. Salley Hemmings. was opposed to
the extension of slavery into the territory. In the Confederation Congress of
1784 Jefferson had introduced a bill that would have abolished slavery in the
Old Northwest after 1800. The bill failed I led by one vote due to the illness
and absence of Beatty of New Jersey, who would have supported it. The vote was
strictly, sectional. Every southern state, including Jefferson's own Virginia.
voted against it while ever northern state except New Jersey every supported
it. It is also true that Jefferson was in Annapolis on May 2, 1784, when Lemen
is quoted as saying that they met and discussed Lemen's antislavery role in
Illinois. There is no evidence, however, beyond stated quotations from Lemen,
to support Lemen's story of his employment and pay by Jefferson.
Author Merrill D. Peterson
says of this problem "The so‑called 'Jefferson‑Lemen Compact'
further illustrates the belief that Jefferson was deeply involved in the anti‑slavery
history of the Northwest. Joseph B. Lemen, in a paper read before the Illinois
Historical Society in 1908, told how Jefferson, disappointed by the defeat of
the slavery proviso in 1784, entered into a secret compact with James Lemen
(the author's grandfather) under which Lemen would migrate to Illinois with his
family and there serve as Jefferson's agent to prevent the introduction of
slavery. Willard C. MacNaul's scholarly inquiry in 1915, The Relations of
Thomas Jefferson and James Lemen in the Exclusion of Slavery from Illinois and
the Northwest Territory, vouched for
the truthfulness of the family tradition. MacNaul cited several letters from
Jefferson, entries in James Lemen's diary, even the "compact" itself.
These, however, were transcripts, certified as true copies of the originals by
James Lemen, Jr. half a century or more after they had allegedly been written.
The remaining evidence was inconclusive. Although the 'Jefferson‑Lemen
Compact' initially won the support of some historians, the best authorities on
the Old Northwest have for some time regarded it as false or unproven.
According to Julian P. Bopyd, present author of The Papers of Thomas
Jefferson, there is no record
whatsoever of Jefferson's relationship to James Lemen.'
wrote in answer to this writer's query, "The so‑called 'Jefferson‑
Lemen Compact' is without foundation . . . that such a compact existed is
inherently implausible and, with respect to Jefferson, wholly
A Lemen descendant writing
later of the family was very careful in his reference to the Lemen‑Jefferson
bit, saying only "When under the advice of Thomas Jefferson, and prompted
by his humane instincts to always oppose oppression, he left his home in
Virginia to rear his family in free soil, he and Jefferson both agreed that,
sooner or later, there would be a mighty contest made to fasten slavery on the
Lemen created dissension in
the Baptist ranks over slavery. It was not that Badgley and others favored
slavery, for the Scriptures they preached abhor human slavery as a viable
institution, and all knowledgeable Illinois Baptists understood this. However,
due to varied cultural backgrounds, they viewed the institution with varying
degrees of abhorrence. It is likely that Lemen's zeal to prevent slavery was a
desire for political and religious recognition as well as a matter
of personal conviction. Badgley, McCoy, Peck, and other Baptist leaders ceded
nothing to Lemen in their respect for every human being, but Lemen's zealous
efforts created the impression among his colleagues that he felt himself
especially superior to them. This feeling did not enhance their love for him.
Badgley held no brief for slavery, but he thought the problem was resolved by
the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 which finally had been passed with its
restriction against slavery.
McCoy, government employee to survey and explore government lands and relocate
Indian tribes, was also a Baptist missionary to the Indians. Inquiring into
this associational problem, he found that the New Design and Richland churches
had adopted an emancipating doctrine that barred slave holders from their
membership but not from* Christian fellowship. While Lemen, of Richland,
publicly declared that he had no fellowship with slave holders, the church saw
that he had violated their agreement. When the association met to try to solve
the problem," it was at length proposed by Elder David Badgley that all
those who were disposed to be in union with Baptists generally should write
down their names in this place, and those to style themselves, 'Friends of
Humanity' should write their names in that place." There were two parties
in the Richland church, the Lemen group and the moderate emancipators. Both of
these groups signed the "Friends of Humanity" sheet. The old Union
Baptists, the majority, signed the other paper. So thus David Badgley moderated
effectively each person's right to do as he wished ‑‑ a Baptist
belief. The "Friends of Humanity" group numbered only five, and by
December tenth of that same year, 1809, had added two more to its organization.
The majority of the group were genealogically related. They existed as a
denomination until 1834 when they returned to the Baptist convention.
From 1807 to 1820, the
records of the Illinois Association of United Baptists listed the names and
entrance dates of its churches. In 1807 New Design and Mississippi Bottom, both
organized by Badgley and Joseph Chance, entered. In 1808 Feefee's Creek in the
Louisiana Territory joined, and in 1809 Looking Glass Prairie, Ogles Creek,
and Turkey Hill (formerly called Silver Creek) united. Beaf and Nigro Fork
entered in 1812, Femoshage and Prairie de Long in 1814, Mount Pleasant in 1816,
Cantine Creek, Shoal Creek and Upper Quiver in 1817, Hurricane in 1818, Bethel,
Providence on Macoupin, Twelve Mile Pike, and Union in 1819. These churches,
with some differences of opinion, continued in and out of, and sometimes in
again, the associational fellowship.
Rev. David Badgley worked
diligently and honestly in the Illinois and Missouri churches. He was moderator
of the association and preached at its meetings in 1807, 1809‑10, 1814,
1816, and 1818‑20. In 1807 he was on tile committee to ‑Settle the
distresses that remain among the churches." He was also on the committee
of decorum. Often David would host meetings in tits home. Much later. Frank,
one of the Lemen family, wrote of Badgley as a pioneer Baptist minister, a
faithful worker, a successful laborer, and a man of large influence.
William Henry Harrison
appointed Badgley as a judge early in 1801. As judge, Badgley signed three
petitions for division of territory, one squatters' petition and several
others. Writing of Badgley, another judge said, "There is nothing
unworthy."' On to 1811 Badgley continued an active citizen serving in the
St. Clair County court, signing a petition against the annexation of Louisiana
and signing a letter to Congress favoring militia and against treason and civil
war. On May 3, 1809, a commission as Justice of Peace was issued to Badgley in
proclamation by Nathaniel Pope, Governor of the Illinois Territory.
As the Baptist denomination
grew, the younger men took administrative positions. Inexperienced, but eager,
they criticized the older men, including Badgley. However, not all Baptists
were so critical. Rev. John Taylor. an early Baptist minister in Virginia and
Kentucky, had witnessed Badgley's baptism in Virginia.
Later, Taylor wrote of
Badgley as: "A worthy old preacher ... settled on the river not far below
St. Louis; his labours have been successful from the beginning of his preaching
there as well as in Virginia before he moved. A number of churches by his
labours as well as others, have been raised not far from St. Louis. He told me
himself, he began to baptize there twenty years ago. Of all this the
missionaries could not be ignorant: for they became acquainted personally with
Badgley soon after they went to St. Louis, so that nothing can excuse the false
statements of these vain young men, but the conclusion that nothing was valid
except under the direction of the Board of Missions.
The Board of Missions to
which Taylor referred was the Board of Foreign and Home Missions of the East
which sent young missionaries to the West to preach, to inspect, and to invite
associations to join their organization. Evidently some of those young men did
not quite know how to go about their task. They were easily influenced by men
wishing to make changes and do away with the strict laws of the older man.
Badgley continued to serve on
various committees and was appointed interim pastor in several churches,
including Shoal Creek, Mississippi Bottom, and Wood River at different times.
He was elected to correspond with the Baptist associations in Missouri and
Indiana and was a delegate to the Missouri associational meeting one year. In
1818 he preached for two days at Hurricane Church. The original papers of that
church for October 1818 state that Badgley "disclaimed Brother Shipman an
unbeliever in the word of God. Agreed Brother Badgley tend his bizness this
church tend tours." The members of this accepted associational church were
democratic and could disagree and still speak to the one with whom they
disagreed as "brother" even
while they told him to mind
his own business.
Badgley continued to be a busy minister. In 1818, his association appointed him
to correspond with the Baptist Board of Missions in Pennsylvania, and because
of this the young missionaries in Illinois felt the need to get along with him,
their man of responsibility. That same year, Badgley was appointed to write the
history "of the Baptists In the Illinois to be preserved with the
documents of the Association." In October of 1819, Badgley reported that
he had made "some progress in composing an outline of the history of the
Association." 59 On October 16, 1820, he reported that he had completed
the outline. Whatever happened to that outline is not known. Badgley's only
known writing, it seems to have been lost or destroyed (as does an article
about Badgley by his friend William Jones).
On October 24, 1818. Badgley
was elected to the Board of Managers of the Association of Missouri Baptists
whose headquarters were in St. Louis. In the previous March, Badgley, then
pastor at Ogle's Creek Church, had invited the Rev. John Peck, with whom he had
a hearty friendship, to preach about the United Society for the Spread of the
Gospel. Through this organization Peck was trying to raise money for himself, a
Mr. Welch, and the Rev. Isaac McCoy for missionary purposes. On Friday, March
19, 1819, still active in this moneyraising pursuit, Peck was again at
Badgley's home. It was a cold, wet day. Though the early spring weather
remained bad, and it was a poor time to travel, Peck and Badgley began a week's
horseback tour of Silver Creek, Looking Glass Prairie and Second Canteen
churches. Elder Badgley became the first missionary for the Rev. John Peck at
the wage of $16.00 a month. As they rode, the ministers discussed theology.
Peck later wrote of their
talks: "Elder Badgley like many of our frontier preachers, who never knew
any rules of the interpretation of Scripture, but their own fancy, or as some
of them mistakenly thought, the Spirit of God taught them the meaning‑had
some queer speculations, which he occasionally preached to the world."
Those two men could discuss
their beliefs without getting angry and could have happy relationships even
when disagreeing and criticizing. Of another of their discussions, Peck wrote,
"We had a long but friendly talk about the fall of man." Their talk
was on whether or not Adam died a spiritual or a moral death, and Peck wrote,
"We had a profitless discussion." They went cheerfully on their way
preaching in the churches about the need for missions.
The times and activities
among ministers, churches and members were generally serious, but amusing
things did happen and were thoroughly appreciated in those hard pioneer days.
Once Badgley and Jones were conducting a revival service in the log home of
Uncle Johnny Rattan. It was customary in those pioneer meetings, if there was
more than one minister available. to have one man preach the sermon and the
other exhort the sinners to accept Christ. At this particular service, Jones
had preached and Badgley was making the exhortation, pleading with emotion and
physical exertion. Brother Jones was sitting beside him. Jones noticed that the
people were very much interested, not in the exhortation, but in something
about the exhorter. Some were smiling. and a few young people were even
snickering. Thus alerted, Jones leaned forward on his chair and looked at the
speaker. He saw that the drawstring string of Badgley's trousers had come
untied. Quickly he nudged Badgley and gave an ominous look at Badgley's belt.
Badgley stopped speaking, looked down. and then very quickly but calmly tied a
tight knot in the string and then continued his appeal to the listeners.
In 1820 Badgley was still
active, but by 1822 illness and the knowledge of the nearness of death caused
the old preacher to write his will "In the name of God." He left to
his wife all his money, bonds, bills, notes, live stock, household furniture,
beds, bedsteads, and‑property. To his four living sons, Aaron, Ichabod,
Job, and Abraham, who had borrowed money from their father, he declared the
notes null and void. He also gave them his "moveable property, that is to
say a cart, Mill Stones, Joiner tools, Smiths tools, Turners tools, etc."
He left his deceased David's boys, Absolom and Abraham. "One hundred and
sixty acres of Land situated on Shoal Creek, adjoining Power's Mill." To
the dead son's daughters, Priscilla and Salley, he left fifty dollars. However,
six days before his death, Badgley dictated and signed a codicil to his will
stating that those two grandaughters were not to receive the twenty‑five
dollars each that he had previously stated would be theirs. He also stated in
that codicil that those girls were not to be "heirs to my estate in any
wise." The reason for such a stern act was not stated but it was very
likely triggered by the girls' interest in the churches sponsored by Lemen,
churches which held views contrary to those of Badgley, would not fellowship
Badgley, and sometimes spoke unkindly of him. Because David Badgley believed
that the doctrines which he held were right and necessary, he could not go
contrary to them in the principle of parental guidance and authority as he saw
them. Salley did join the Friends of Humanity on January 1, 1825, less than a
month after her grandfather's death. That church had been organized by the
Lemen family, her grandfather's enemies.
On December 16, 1824, pioneer
Baptist, the Rev. David Badgley died. He had owned land in two states, had
traveled and searched the primitive countryside, had led Christians in worship
and church organization, had sincerely conducted and sponsored mission work,
and had been a dutiful and active citizen. Devotedly, earnestly, continually he
had done his best. Though envied. criticized, and persecuted, he was loved, followed.
and honored. He had been hurt; he had hurt. He had been helped and he had
helped. "He was what we call a revivalist and did great work in the
pioneer times." He made mistakes, but he tried to do right.
Among weeds and vines, on a
hill just outside O'Fallon, Illinois fallen stones mark his grave. Dried leaves
cover the fact: of a fallen stone which had long ago been erected to mark his
grave. The stone bears this inscription:
Born in Essex C. New Jersey
Nov. 5, 1749
Emigrated to Hardy co.
in 1768. Visited Ill.
& constituted the
tist church in the territory.
1797 emigrated to Ill.
Died Dec. 16, 1824
peace to his memory"
This is the final resting
place on earth for David Badgley, the John the Baptist of the early Illinois