Gum Springs Church History

Gum Springs Church once stood in section 19 of Stonefort Township on the banks of Sugar Creek. It was a beautiful site in a grove of sweet gum trees, with a spring that is still flowing. Peter Gilley helped build the church in the thirties, and it became the home church of the Ferrell family when William Ferrell (1788-1867) and Jailie (Barnes) Ferrell came to Illinois in 1839. Their sons Hezekiah and Wilfred Ferrell were leaders in the Missionary Baptist church throughout southern Illinois. Another son, George Ferrell (1816-1856) married Laura M. Waller m 1840 and settled on a farm in section 18 of Stonefort Township. Their sons were Leander, Dr. Hosea V., and Levi Ferrell, all prominent in the county. The George Ferrell farm, run by the third son after the father’s death, was the home to which the itinerant preachers returned from time to time, in the intervals of organizing and pastoring such churches as Coal Bank Springs and Mount Zion.

Dr. Samuel H. Bundy brought his family to this neighborhood in 1852 from Tennessee. He preached the Missionary Baptist doctrines on Sunday and doctored the neighbors with jalap and ipecac, with Peruvian barks for fever and ague. In the first capacity, he solemnized in 1853 the marriage of Richard P. Walker and Sarah Davis, the girl for whom her father named Sarahville.

The Bundy children, William H. and Mary E., went to school with the Ferrell children, or at least with young Hosea, in Gum Springs Church house. George Washington Gilley, now eighty and a resident of New Burnside, was one of the younger members of the church.

The Bundy family moved away, to Marion, Benton, then Charleston. There Mary E. Bundy paraded with other ten year old girls on the day of the Lincoln-Douglas debate. She shook hands with each candidate, and used to compare descriptions with her husband, Charles H. Denison, who heard the debate at Freeport. They met as teachers, when Mr. Denison brought the spelling team from Chamnesstown School to challenge Miss Bundy’s school.

Doctor Bundy brought his family back to Williamson County before the war and was active in the campaigns. In 1866 he published the Democratic newspaper, Old Flag, at Marion. William H. Bundy became a member of the legislature.

Spring Hill church was built less than a mile down Sugar Creek, where another spring ran from the side of a large hill. The members of Gum Springs moved in a body to the new church, and the old building was wrecked. Rev. Martin Odum, of the family around Odumburg School, retained his membership in Spring Hill church while he preached at others in Palzo and Sarahville.

Fail-view Baptist church in section 13 of Creal Springs Township now serves the neighborhood. It stands on the west line of the farm that George Ferrell made his home in 1841.

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