Then and Now: Concord Church


“Concord Township History” was written by Thomas S. McFarland for The History of Champaign County, compiled in 1881 for “W. H. Beers & Co, Publisher.” This company’s business was to solicit and publish local county histories in many states. J.W. Ogden is generally thought to be the overall compiler, but we call the history “Beers” as many local writers contributed to the histories recorded in the publication. T.S. McFarland also wrote articles for the local newspapers and these articles were complied and published in several volumes by the recently disbanded Champaign County Genealogy Society. Most younger people now days rely on the internet for there information. I wonder where the internet will get its information if local paper written histories and newspapers no longer exist or are written? (By the way, a history of W. H. Beers & Company itself could not be located in one day’s searching on the internet!)

Putting that problem aside and getting back to the subject at hand, Concord Township is one of 12 townships in Champaign County. It consists of 30 sections of land in the Northwest Territory. It is centrally located within the county being the first tier west of Mad River. It was originally part of Mad River Township, being separated sometime between 1811 and 1818. By 1881 it was considered in “a fair state of cultivation.” That meant that much of the suitable land had been cleared of trees so as to raise food crops for people and animals. Remember all of our County was densely forested when first settled in 1790’s.

The “Then” sketch of the society familiarly known as Concord Chapel is taken from the 1874 Atlas of Champaign County. The church was organized in 1818, the same year as the township borders were officially established. The meetings for both business of the township and for worship were held principally at the home of Robert McFarland (T.S. McFarland’s father.) It was interesting to learn that the home farm included the remains of an Indian village still plainly visible when he settled there, with fourteen huts in a “pretty fair state of preservation.” These huts stood some two or three hundred yards southwest of Concord Chapel.

Log church built in 1824

Robert McFarland was involved with the first M.E. Church in Urbana, then with the Stevens’ M. E. Church in Westville and lastly with the Concord M.E. society. Their first log church was built in 1824 for a cost of $50. It was erected on the west line of the graveyard so as to share part of the land donated by James Russell and part donated by Robert McFarland for the church and burial grounds, each man having donated one acre of ground. Very descriptive details of that log church can be found in T.S. McFarland’s writings. The log church served the society until 1838 when their first brick church was completed for a cost of $1,001. That house of worship was used until 1867 when yet a bigger and better brick church replaced it, the one in the photo, listed as Concord Chapel M E Church or sometimes referred to as the McFarland Meeting House. This church came at the price of $7,150. (There were once three Methodist Episcopal Churches within Concord Township one called Neer Chapel and in 1881 those were the only churches built in Concord Township up to that time, according to McFarland.)

There were 37 names listed in the first congregation. At the building of the first log church the trustees of the property were George Gideon, William Harbor, Zachariah Heath, Joseph Kill, Robert McFarland, James Russell, and Robert Russell Sr. being executed by John L. Stevens, justice of the peace, and witnessed by Elizabeth Gideon and Jane Russell. (Perhaps some of their descendants are still in the county.)

In researching more recent history of this church, recorded history was found written by Eva Barger and published in Champaign County in 1991, assembled by the former Champaign County Genealogical Society. In this account some of the past details vary, but not drastically. Barger relates that from 1850 until 1900, this church body shared a minister with Westville, Terre Haute, and Tremont City. About 1900 that arrangement was split and Westville and Concord shared a minister.

“Now” Concord Church was rebuilt once again after a 1948 tornado severely damaged the structure. This present building was finished in 1958 and cost $64,348 and has been continually updated with modern conveniences in the years since then, such as a continually modernizing the kitchen and bathrooms, speaker systems, and an elevator. Located at 2963 North State Route 560, Urbana, Ohio, Rev. Sherri Blackwell is current pastor according to their website.

The township’s population in 2010 was 1,408 compared to the county population of 40,097 and is still in “a fair state of cultivation” with the Concord Church still on going in 2017. photo photo

By Sheryl Virts

Champaign County Historical Society

Submitted by the Champaign County Historical Society.

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