The Beginning

The Beginning

The history of the Steelville Presbyterian Church is closely related to the town’s early beginnings.  The first settler on the town site was William Britton who first came to this spot in 1833 and built a log house, 14 ft. by 16 ft, and a little grist mill on Yadkin Creek.  James Steel was, it is believed, the next settler to come to this place.  He built a small store on what is now Main Street about 1835, having purchased forty acres of land from the government, and sold it to the County Court of Crawford County on December 16, 1835 for $50.  By this time, a little settlement had sprung up and the County Court named the town Steelville in honor of James Steel.

In “History of Franklin, Jefferson, Crawford, Counties, Missouri,” Goodspeed Publishing Co. Chicago, 1888, it records that the first church building was erected by the Cumberland Presbyterians.  States the history, “It stood where the present brick public school building stands, and was, in fact, more of a seminary building than a church, though religious services were held therein on Sundays.  It was used for both Seminary and Church until 1871.”  The Steelville Church was first organized in Steelville as the Steelville Cumberland Presbyterian Church by one John E. Braley around 1844 or 1845 with R. C. Dunlap and Samuel Lofton as elders.  John E. Braley was succeeded by his brother, Rev. James B. Braley, who was pastor until 1851 and then had contact or served the church from time to time up to around 1883.

The seminary building was used until 1868 when the basement of the Masonic Hall was rented and used as a church until the congregation erected a building on the present building site.  The new building – completed at a total cost of more than $2,800 – was dedicated on November 12, 1876. This building was remodeled in 1912 and had a basement dug under it about 1933. It served the congregation as a house of worship and study until November 25, 1957, when it was badly damaged by fire of undetermined origin. Almost immediately after the fire, the congregation appointed a special committee to study thoroughly the needs and the financial circumstances of the church, and, later, upon the recommendation of that committee, it approved the construction of a new church building on the site of the old one.

In 1906, when the Cumberland Presbyterian Church merged nationally with the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, the church had become Steelville Presbyterian Church and, with the merger of the Presbyterian Church in the USA with the United Presbyterian Church, on May 28, 1958, to form the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, the Steelville church became a member of this national body.