Geographically, Mound City is located on the Ohio River at the extreme
southern portion of the State, and the earliest history of which we have an
accurate account dates back to 1812. That was the time of the Indian
massacre, and it tells of the life and fate of many early pioneers who were
Tennesseans, who were driven here by the earthquake of December 16, 1811.
Two families by the name of Clark and Philips and a man by the name of Kennedy were living in cabins on the higher elevations that presented themselves to these early settlers on the banks of the Ohio at Mound City. A band of Creek Indians which had inhabited the lower part of Kentucky, but had been exiled and outlawed for some supposed outrages committed in their own nation, made their appearance as they were returning from a tour in the northern part of the Territory. Just previous to their arrival came a man by the name of Shover, visitor, who witnessed the awful massacre, and who barely escaped with his own life. Guns and tomahawks were the implements used in this butchery. For years fear and superstition possessed the people who migrated up and down the Ohio River. In 1836 this was overcome to a great degree, and again cabin homes were erected for other families. ^ The shipping facilities were excellent, the soil for cultivation was very good, the timber lands excelled in all manner of woods.
In 1838 a regiment of soldiers returning from the Florida War, was ice-bound and remained in camp all winter, three-quarters of a mile south of Mound City, on Cache river. Wild cattle and hogs abounded in the woods as well as deer and turkey and all other wild game. Tradition has it that these were much less when the soldiers broke camp in the spring.
In the summer of 1863, Mound City became a naval station, the government taking possession of the property on the river front, and later a navy yard was established upon its banks. A government hospital was established in 1862. By special request Dr. Steven J. McMaster resigned the presidency of a college in Missouri in order to become chaplain of the United States hospital at Mound City, where a chapel was fitted for service through the courtesy of Dr. Wardner, surgeon id charge. The services were attended by citizens as well as soldiers. In 1863, the Rev. Dr. Isaac P. Sabough became rector of the church in Cairo, our neighboring city, and desiring to hold services in Mound City, the Methodist meeting house was kindly tendered him, also the public school building. In 1865 the Rev. John Foster held services for a short time, when he was succeeded by Rev. William Britton, and during his incumbency the church was built and dedicated St. Peter’s in 1866. The lot upon which the church is erected was given by Frank Rawlings, a young attorney, on condition that when it ceased to be used for the given purpose, it would revert to the Rawlings heirs. Prior to the building of said church much interest must necessarily have developed, for when the women get busy, things usually count for something, and so it was when Mrs. Sarah Jane Barbour Kelsey, a native of Hartford, Conn., moved with her husband, Capt. Kelsey and young family, from Cincinnati, Ohio in the year 1856. She was a church woman of the highest type, educated and highly intelligent, prominent socially and clear sighted as to the needs of the church extension in this new country. Her quiet efforts coupled with those of Mrs. Wardner and Mrs. Josephine Goodloe, a young music teacher, a native of Lexington, Ky. did much to arouse enthusiasm as to the necessity for this church development already manifested which culminated in an entertainment. A festival and dance was given in a brick store house, corner Poplar and First street, afterwards occupied by W. J. Price as a general store.
At this entertainment three young ladies were placed as candidates for a diamond ring. Miss Marie Howard, by the citizens. Miss Mollie Holmes by the Naval officers, and Miss Alice Casey by the Army officers, money flowed like water from all sources for these general favorites, each feeling sure of winning the prize, and disappointment was a factor not to be considered. However, when it came, and was fully realized, it was also gracefully received by the defeated candidates who were more than satisfied that a bulk of $2,200 raised at that entertainment in two evenings was gained through their popularity. The church was erected after this and dedicated. The first service was conducted by Rev. Lyle, who was followed by Rev. Dafton. In 1868 Rev. William Mitchell took charge and sometime during the year a class of thirteen was confirmed by the Rt. Rev. Henry John Whitehouse, D. D., D. C. L., Bishop of Illinois.
During 1869-70, services were held on Sunday afternoons. These services were in charge of the Rev. James Coe and Rev. Edwin Coarr.
This brings our local history down to 1870, previous to this no written church records can be obtained, if such ever existed. The first entry of baptism was made in the Parish register in Dec. 1870, the records also show that the Rev. R. C. Boyer and the Rev. Dr. Reynolds in 1871 performed some official acts. Whether the latter was ever in charge of St. Peter's is not positively known. In 1871 Rev. Albert E. Wells assumed the rectorship and served the people faithfully for eight years, he was an earnest man and regarded with warm affection by his people, and especially so by the writer of this sketch and her husband, as he performed the marriage ceremony, which united their two young lives, as well as at the marriage of other friends. Mr. Wells was succeeded by the Rev. J. E. C. Smedes who remained probably two years, he was followed by the Rev. Howard McDougall who began his work in the parish on Palm Sunday, 1887, and continued in charge until late in the year of 1888. Then came Rev. Edwards for a few months and on Easter Evening, April, 1890. Rev. William Gill by appointment of the Bishop of Springfield, assumed the vacant rectorship, holding the first service on Easter Day. He continued in charge about one year. The Parish remained vacant until August 28, 1892, when by direction of the Bishop, Rev. Edmond Pharees took charge, remaining ten years.
In 1903 Mr. William Baker, Lay Reader, took charge and was ordained Deacon and Priest while here. He was succeeded after a short interval by the Rev. F. A. Juny, who remained until 1908, when he departed for California.
The Rev. William Whitley was his successor and served his people faithfully for over a year. He was succeeded by the Rev. Mr. Anderson, who labored in the Parish for about one and a half years but on account of ill health was compelled to resign. In the fall of 1916 the Rev. Thomas Dyke took charge and remained eighteen months, resigning, leaving his appreciative congregation for Canada, enlisting in the British Army to do service for his country. After a few months he found that he could not do service in the trenches caused by some physical disability. He declined to go as Chaplain feeling that he could do more for his church people at home. He was a capable man and was much appreciated by all.
Our church was without a rector for several months, the Sunday School being carried on by the ladies until the advent of the Rev. John Khuen, our Priest in charge, in 1918, who gives the little mission church one service each Sunday. We often feel discouraged looking back over the vista of years at the efforts put forth by each succeeding generation to have and to hold our own. Considering the hardships of the early church history in the State of Illinois, dating from 1823 when Bishop Chase labored early and late with little remuneration for his service, receiving barely enough to keep the wolf from the door, we may feel satisfied that we have even done so well. At present the prospects are not alluring, still we shall continue to labor and pray.