Church of Christ (Pleasant Hill)

From Lane Co Oregon

The church was organized August 4, 1850 some 12 miles southeast of Eugene in Lane County on Highway 58. There were 19 original members according to church records. They met in the one-room school house as sketched in this drawing. This appeared on the cover of the church's Centennial Celebration folder in 1950. The building was located in the corner of what became the cemetery.

Elijah Bristow (1788-1872) from Virginia; Kentucky; and Macomb, Illinois is credited with founding the congregation. Bristow was the first non-Indian settler in Lane County. He acquired three trades - that of hatter, blacksmith and gunsmith.

When he arrived in the area in 1846, he is quoted as saying, "There I will take my claim; and I am going to name it Pleasant Hill. That ridge with the mountains in the background reminds me of my boyhood home in old Virginia."

While Elijah had arrived earlier, his family came overland in 1848. He and Susanna had 15 children. He was affectionately called "Uncle Bristow." This was common among pioneer church leaders.

The family had a tremendous impact on early Oregon. The last preacher to descend from the Bristow family was Arlo, who preached his final sermon at the Norvale Park Church of Christ during the years before it became the present Garden Way Church.

In 1849 Elijah Bristow gave five acres for a church building, a school and a cemetery. The school was first taught in the winter of 1849-1850 and the building was used for church purposes. Services were conducted at the first by the heads of the families.

The church and school quickly outgrew their facility and a new one was built with lumber from a newly-constructed planing mill. It was adequate for an additional 21 years. The log building was moved to Elijah Bristow's property and used as a barn.

[edit] Member List

This list, located in the archives at Northwest Christian College, claims to be from 1850, but it contains several marriages and baptisms that occured later. We have placed husbands and wives together where we had other sources to verify that change. Some of the others may have been married, but we cannot tell. This may be the membership list of about 1859 for the Pleasant Hill Church:

Sarah Barclay, Daniel Baughman, Margaret Baughman, Samuel / Elizabeth Baughman, Sarah Baughman, Henry Bowman, Pamila Bowman, William / Polly Bowman, Elias M. / Mary Johnson Briggs, Able King / Almira Bristow, Elijah / Susanna Bristow, John K. / Mary Bristow, Martha McCall Bristow, Sarah E. Bristow, William Wilshire / Elizabeth Bristow, Mrs. Brown, Silas Brown, David Callison, Gilmore / Eliza Linder Callison, Minerva Fisher Callison, Robert / Polly Bristow Callison, Rufus Callison, Susan Callison, William / Rebecca Jane Linder Callison, Humphrey Carter, Francis Brown Davis, Mrs. Mary Davis, Sally Davis, Thomas Davis, William R. Davis, Mary Jane Elliott, Mrs. Mary Elliott, Frederick / Mary Fisher, James / Sarah Fisher, Thomas Fisher, John T. / Delilah Bristow Gilfry, Casewell Hendricks, James / Elizabeth Bristow Hendricks, Margaret Elliott Hendricks, Mr. Hibbard, Joseph C. Jennings, Louisa Jennings, Sarah Jane Rutledge Kirk Abraham Landers, James L. Laughlin, Mary Laughlin, Robert Linder, Elizabeth Russell Lyons, James L. Lyons, William / Matilda McCall, Adin G. McDowell, Sarah McDowell, Louise McMurry, Mary McMurry, Catherine Mitchell, Maranda Shelley (Mrs. James) Mitchell, Henry Moore, Henry Morgan, Lydia Morgan, Mrs. John Morgan, Mrs. Ruth Morgan, Ruth Morgan, Caroline Rutledge Parker, Phoebe Rigdon Parker, John Parks, Zilphia Bristow (Mrs Stephen) Rigdon, Elizabeth Rowland, L. B. Rowland, Abel / Elizabeth Russell, John / Margaret Russell, Silas Russell, Elizabeth Rutledge, Catharine Shelley, Harrison Shelley, June (Jane?) Shelley, Margaret Shelley, Mrs. Phebe Shelley, Peter Shelley, Samuel M. Shelley, Levi Sinder, James W. Skaggs, Mrs. Phoebe Stoops, Caroline Wallace, James Wallace, Almira Russell Williams

The first regular preacher was Gilmore Callison. His family arrived in 1852 from Illinois. The regular song leader at the church had become Robert Callison.

Early Ministers:

Gilmore Callison 1852

Peter R. Burnett 1875

T. M. Morgan 1880

Two elders at a very early date were Robert Callison and Samuel Baughman. In 1858 J.R. Fisher wrote of the elders at Pleasant Hill Church of Christ:

We consider it the duty of the elders to visit their flocks from house to house as well as to furnish religious instruction upon the first day of the week. In case of a public transgression, or waywardness, the elders labor with the offender; if suitable reparation is made by him it goes no further; if not, they proceed to collect the evidence in the case, giving the accused an opportunity to confront those who testify against him and to defend himself if he wishes to do so. After which the elders proceed to give a decision in the case; regarding not only the magnitude of the offence, but also the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the accusation.

Cases of difficulty among the brethren are treated the same way, after the preliminary steps have been taken as set forth in the 18th chapter of Matthew. All this is done without confusion, and without having a democratic mass meeting of the congregation. After they give their decision, they proceed to publicly report the same to the church. After which the members withdraw from the offender according to the command in 1 Corinthians 5:11,12. We avoid the investigation of cases of discipline by or in the presence of the mass of the church as uncomely, sometimes indecent, un-Scriptural, and every way fraught with the worst consequences.

We avoid voting by the church except upon questions of expediency. We look upon voting as tending more or less to factionism. All propositions that any member may wish to present to the church are first privately placed in the hands of the elders, which it is their duty to consider. If they think it will tend to the good of all then they lay it before the church for adoption or rejection. Acts 21:18-26. We also apply this rule in case of application for letters."

Historian Olga Freeman writes about the Pleasant Hill Church:

A custom from the beginning of the Pleasant Hill church was to withdraw the names of those who in the judgment of the board were not living in a way suitable for a Christian. If members drifted away of their own accord, they were recorded as "Returning to the Beggardly elements."

The first separate church building was built in 1875. As might be surmised from the two doors in the photo, the men sat on one side and the women on the other. Peter Rogers Burnett was the preacher at that time. While the building was built on property that originally belonged to Elijah Bristow, the property was deeded to the church by Robert and Polly Bristow Callison.

The pioneer history of the Pleasant Hill congregation is not complete without telling of Isaac Newton and Sarah Mulkey. The Mulkeys arrived in Pleasant Hill in 1871. I.N. (pictured) brought the skills of farming and blacksmithing and made a good income from them. But as he continued to study the Scriptures, he longed to use his life teaching. He had the opportunity at Bethel in 1898. There he preached and tended his 6.5 acre garden. One of their sons became an Oregon State Senator. His brother, A. H. Mulkey preached at Coquille.

Making their homes near Pleasant Hill were the Rigdon families. John, a graduate of Alexander Campbell's Bethany College, was married to Mary Bell (overland in 1853) and his son Stephen, was married to the Bristow's daughter Zilphia (overland in 1848). John left his mark as a circuit-riding preacher while several local landmarks bore Stephen's name: Rigdon Meadows, Rigdon Point, Rigdon Lakes and Rigdon Butte.

Special Gospel Meetings:

About 9 out of 10 additions were by immersion, the rest were by transfer from another congregation.

1868 G. W. Whitney 18 added

1870 John M. Harris 5 added

1874 John M. Harris 26 added

1875 Mac Waller 14 added

In 1881, the congregation reported 74 members. The elders at that time were Samuel Baughman, Robert Callison and Issac Newton Mulkey.

This rural congregation has continued without interruption since it was established making it the oldest congregation in Oregon remaining located in one place. Its present building dates from 1912. The Bristow family is memorialized in a street name.

Pioneer Reminders: Bristow Road, Elijah Bristow State Park.

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