First United Presbyterian Church Seal



About 1871 in Mitchell Illinois, John Jay and William Mitchell were pioneer cattle ranchers and farmers in the area. These men donated land for a school. They also donated land for a Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches. It is said that the Mitchell brothers were Baptists and donated the money in 1897 for the construction of a Protestant church with the understanding that the church would be Baptist. However, it also stated that the land donated for the Protestant church was given with the provision that the title to the property was to be awarded after the church had been established and operated by any one congregation for twelve years.

Apparently, both St Elizabeth’s Catholic Church and the Protestant church were started in 1871. The article states that the Catholic Church was started in 1871. In another place it states that Frank Troeckler, foreman for the Mitchell Brothers Ranch, hauled the first load of rock for the Protestant church in 1871. The article states that, typical of the times, both churches were build by the combined labors of the inhabitants. In our generation we are happy to note that there is a growing goodwill between Catholics and Protestants.

There seems to be general agreement that the first Protestant church in the Mitchell area was located where the Donaldson Café now stands, on the south side of Chain of Rocks Road and about a block east of route 203. Apparently, this church was a Baptist church at first, but it would seem that this arrangement did not continue for more than a few years. It is reported that, later, there was a movement to tear down the church since it was inactive. However, this plan was abandoned when the Methodist denomination agreed to operate the church. It is not known how long the Methodist operated the church, but the time certainly fell short of twelve years. It seems impossible to reconstruct the history of these early years for which no records are available. One might be justified in guessing that there were long periods when the church did not function or if it did function, it was as a non-denominational Sunday school with occasional evangelistic services by itinerant preachers.

At a still later date, maybe fifty years after the church was erected, the people in the congregation were able to secure the assistance of a student minister named Thorton. It is recalled that the preaching and looking after the pastoral needs of the congregation, he was paid $3.00 per week. It is thought that this arrangement continued for four or five years. Apparently, this student minister was a Presbyterian. It was during his period of service, in 1927, that Ida Hanfelder moved into the Mitchell area and became active in the Protestant church at Mitchell. When he resigned, it looked as though the church might again become inactive. Mrs. Hanfelder conferred with Rev. C. E. Bowman of the Presbyterian Church in East St. Louis, who in turn presented the need of the Mitchell church to the Presbytery. The Presbytery appointed the Rev. N. C. Griffin to serve the church at Mitchell. He was pastor of the Wynstanley Presbyterian Church at East St. Louis where he lived, but served the Mitchell church in addition to his other duties. He was able to travel by using the interurban, which operated at that time, and Sunday worship services were held in the afternoon. Apparently, Presbyterian; leadership was more tenacious than previous efforts, for it continued and the church has been under Presbyterian administration ever since. After operating the church continuously for twelve years, the property was deeded to the Presbyterian denomination.