Coal Bank Springs Church History

Coal Bank Springs Church in section 22, Crab Orchard Township, is one of the oldest church organizations in the county. In 1823 the families of Corder, Davis, and Parks built a log house near the Coal bank to use as their church. This outcropping of stone coal was used by the earliest settlers, long before the geologists learned of the deeper and more valuable veins in the western part of the county.

Lewis and Mary (Garner) Corder came to Crab Orchard in 1822 with their son, Hamilton Corder, his wife, and father-in-law, Lewis Keaster. Their married daughter, Mrs. Hugh Parks, came to the neighborhood two years before with her husband and his brothers. Lewis Corder and Lewis Keaster were Revolutionary veterans, came together to the new home, conquered the wilderness, and now rest together in old Crab Orchard cemetery. Lewis Corder’s cousin, James Corder, was with George Rogers Clark on the march to Kaskaskia in 1778. He must have brought home the tale of the Illinois country- that led his relatives to their home on Crab Orchard.

The Davis family of Davis prairie was also interested in this early church. The members were all Baptists, and though they had no minister, they worshipped regularly in their little church, and taught each other the doctrines. Charles Lee sometimes came down from Hamilton County to preach for them.

With the coming of more settlers, new churches were built and old Coal Bank fell into disuse. The Baptists of the neighborhood built Rock Creek and Indian Camp Churches, both members of the Franklin Association after 1845.

Elder William Ferrell consolidated these two churches in 1865, and reverted to the old name of Coal Bank Springs Church. Elder Ferrell was also pastor of Gum Springs Church and served nearly every Baptist church in the county at one time or another. David G. Young preached at Coal Bank in 1868 while county Superintendent of Schools.

Coal Bank Springs Church had nearly one hundred members in 1865, among them Sarah and Mildred Cassandra Davis, daughters of John T. Davis of Sarahville. The younger became the wife of Dr. Hosea V. Ferrell, nephew of Elder William Ferrell and a resident of Carterville from 1872 until his death.

In 1873, another division occurred; a new church was formed, principally of members of Coal Bank Springs Church. This is Indian Camp Church near Absher.

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(Extracted from Pioneer Folks and Places, Barbara Barr Hubbs, 1939, on sale at the Williamson County Museum)