Camp Ground Cumberland Presbyterian Church

Anna, Union County, Illinois

Organized 1850

Covenant Presbytery
Synod of Midwest

Before the region that is presently Union County was settled, the site of the Camp Ground Church was already recognized as an excellent spot to camp and rest. The site was on the main trail from the Ohio River to the Mississippi River near the intersection with the main trail running north from Fort Massac. The knoll is high enough to escape being flooded during high water and offers easy access to five nearby springs.

Travelers became accustomed to meeting at "the campgrounds" as they made their way through the area sometimes visiting for a week or more. During the winter of 1838-39 there were more than 3,000 Cherokee encamped at Camp Ground. Before the severe winter broke, many of them had joined George Hileman's daughter and son who had been buried in an adjacent field in 1836.

In 1850, the first permanent structure built for worship on this site was a brush arbor of poles and branches gathered from the surrounding forest. A growing congregation and a desire for better protection from the weather led to the erection of a small shed that also served the nearby families as a schoolhouse.

Growing families made it necessary to build a larger, more comfortable structure. A fund was created with contributions from individuals such as Noah Halterman and Thomas Pennigar and organizations such as the Grange; Mr. Hileman donated the land. When the fund had reached about $300, the church and lodge members built the first building that offered real comfort--a single story log structure complete with split log benches supported on wooden pegs. The community used this log structure for more than twenty-five years before replacing it with a two-story frame building begun in 1876 and dedicated the fourth Sunday in April 1882. It was this building that came to be known as the Union Church at the Camp Ground -- periodically other denominations used the facility. During the fall of 1906, this structure burned to the ground. The fire was so intense that the congregation counted it a miracle they had been able to save the organ from the flames.

It took nearly a year of holding services in families' homes before they completed the present building. The present church is essentially the structure they dedicated in 1907. Electric generators were installed and used during the 1930s--REA reached Camp Ground Church in 1942. In 1952 the basement was hand dug under the church and the youth of the church promptly claimed the new space as their own. Since that time oak floors were laid and a new ceiling in 1959; the present furniture purchased in 1960; a gas furnace installed in 1967; indoor plumbing in 1972; the Sunday school rooms addition in 1980; central air-conditioning in 1981; and in preparation for their 150th anniversary the sanctuary was remodeled and reroofed. Plans are underway to add a fellowship hall and additional classrooms in 2002.

As pleasant as the physical facilities, perhaps the most impressive thing to be said about Camp Ground Church is that for its entire history its doors (when there were doors) have never closed and a ministry has been maintained.

The congregation celebrated their Centennial on September 3, 1950, and their 150th anniversary May 25-28, 2000. Sunday School and Worship are every Sunday morning -- 10 and 11 In addition, there are monthly fellowships, seasonal activities, and youth group.

Page Last Updated on June 11, 2002

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