As people moved into an area, churches were built as the preachers moved along with the people. Churches built back then were along the same lines as the homes the people lived in. The walls were made of hewn logs, about twenty feet by twenty four feet, with a wooden chimney on one end and a place cut out for a chimney at the other, which was closed with slabs until it could be finished. In the front was a ;large door, with a center post and double shutters on the principle of a barn. Immediately opposite was the pulpit, which stood about 6 feet out from the wall. The front was so high that when the preacher knelt to pray he was almost hidden from the people. Behind the pulpit was a window without glass. The shutter that closed it was too small for the opening and allowed a stream of air to come in. In the summer, the building was hot and stuffy, the open window and door helped in circulating the air.
The roof was made of clapboards, and there was no ceiling between the roof and floor. usually some boards were laid across the rafters, so some things could be lifted up and stored. The cracks between the logs were not chinked or daubed. mostly they were covered by nailing thin boards over. But, lots of times these were torn off during the heat of summer, to allow more air and light in.
Winters made the churches very uncomfortable. The fall of 1841 brought an early cold spell. That particular Sunday, the last week in November, was 13 degrees, which was very unusual for this country. On Sunday when the people went to church, it was cold and the church goers suffered in the cold. Usually they gathered around noon, but there was no set time for their meetings, as everyone had chores to be done, before leaving for church. The stock had to be fed, chickens let out, cows milked. In cold weather, they had to make sure there was no ice over the drinking water.
A large fire was built in the front yard near the door. When it became too cold in the church, with the cold winds breezing through the cracks, they would retreat to the bonfire to warm. It was still easy to hear the preaching as the old time preachers were not of the soft spoken type. When one group was warmed they went back in and another group took their place. The sermons were not interrupted or stalled as the turns were taken by the fires.
Submitted By Ethel Taylor
June 9, 2004
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