The history of Shiloh Church must be told in connection with the story of the original settlement in the upper Cane Creek valley where the church was established. Fortunately for local history the Rev. Roy F. LeGrand wrote a short
history of the settlement and the church established there and had it
published in a booklet title, "Shiloh, The Mother of Preachers." This
was probably the first Methodist church organized in territory to
become the present Butler County.
On January 8, 1841, a group of families left Jefferson County, Tennessee, to find new homes farther west. The heads of these families were John Eudaley, Dudley Cox, Reed Cox, Elliott Cox, Nathan Davis, James Eudaley, James D. Franklin, Waitman Summers, John Shell, John Wisecarver and John A. Walton. At Louisville, Kentucky, they were joined by Shields King and family. It was early spring when they reached Jackson, Missouri. Readlizing they could not fine new lands in time to grow a crop they reanted land near Jackson and "made a crop."
On July 27, 1841, after the crops were "laid by," Reed Cox, John A. Walton and John Eudaley, as a committee to "spy out" the land and find a place suitable for settlement, left Jackson with wagon and team and one extra "Nag." For the trip of exploration we use Rev. LeGrand's words, "They explored the country southward into Arkansas, crossing St. Francis River at the Indian Ford, and passing through Jackson, Arkansas, they followed the Old Fort Smith Road to North Fork of White River. From here Reed Cox turned north into Missouri on horseback, following the Eleven Points River to a point where Thomasville is now located. Being favorably impressed with this location, he rejoined his company, expecting later to return to this site for permanent settlement unless some more suitable place should be found. After touring on through Carrolton, Arkansas, and on through Taney County, Missouri passing through Springfield, Boliver, Boonville, Caledonia and Fredericktown the trio returned to Jackson about the first of September, 1841."
The explorers had travelled in a triangle, each leg of the triangle being about 200 miles, a total of some 600 miles, perhaps a little more depending on the crooks in the road, side trips to examine promising creek valleys and how far south they went into Arkansas. They were gone about thirty-five days so averaged about 18 to 20 miles per day, about the same as averaged by Featherstonhaugh when he went over some of the same route in 1834. Featherstonhaugh mentions passing through Jackson, Arkansas. Both parties probably crossed Current River at the same place.
Again we pick up the story as told by Rev. LeGrand: "Thrilled with the story of the fertile soil and cool spring water of the Eleven Points valley, as it was related by Reed Cox, the little colony immediately gathered and disposed of their crops and set out for the present site of Thomasville."
Now occurred one of those chance happenings which change events, a happening which was to bring to Butler County as settlers this group of God-fearing, able and industrious men and women including the great natural leader, Virginia born, John Eudaley. The little band reached Logan Creek where they met a man, name unknown to us, who so enthusiastically praised the possibilities of settlement along Ten Mile Creek and Cane Creek valleys that they hired a pilot to guide them to this new site. We now quote the story as it was related by John Eudaley: "When report came, we all decided to turn out courses and come to Cane Creek, and on the 11th of December, 1841, we stretched camp on Cane Creek about eight miles above where I now live. That was on Saturday night. On Sunday Morning we left camp, came down Cane Creek; Monday looked at Ten mile, (and) all decided to take Cane Creek. Tuesday (we) hitched up and made our way down through the brush, as at that time there was no road. Each man began to select his home, as there was no person then here to say yea or nay."
So the upper Cane Creek valley, empty of people at the beginning of December 1841, received its first settlers, strong and sturdy people who meant much to the coming Butler County and whose descendants still ring honor to the names of their forbears.
If meeting a stranger on Logan Creek who directed them to a wonderful location on Cane Creek seemed to these settlers to be an act of providence, they really felt that God was with them when the first visitor to their camp proved to be a Methodist minister. Again we quote from Rev. LeGrand's narrative: "The Methodist circuit rider of the Greenville Circuit, the Reverend John H. Headlee, lost his way in the wilderness, on the night of January 1, 1842, only a few days after the camp was set up, and half frozen, guided by the dim light of the camp, staggered into camp to find a hearty welcome by a group of his own religious faith. It was a happy meeting, not only for the physical comforts of the cold, hungry circuit rider, but also for the spiritual hunger of this little company of men and women, most of whom had early become established in the Methodist faith in their old communities in Tennessee. One member of the group, Dudley Cox, was at that time a licensed exhorter in the Methodist Church, and at least one other, John Eudaley, had been married and baptized by the Rev. Thomas Wilkerson, who had labored with the received appointments by Bishop Asbury in his younger days. Before leaving the friendly atmosphere of this camp the young minister preached and arranged for an appointment for his next round, which was in May of the same year."
In the preaching service in May 1842 the Reverend Headlee organized a Methodist class and appointed John Eudaley as class leader. The charter members were Dudley Cox, Parenelitha Cox, John Eudaley, Orlena Eudaley, Reed Cox, Jacob Cox, Dicy Cox, Nancy Eudaley, Washington Eudaley, Sarah Eudaley, James D. Franklin, Nathan Davis, William Johnson, Lydia Johnson, Elizabeth Johnson, John A. Walton and Parnelia Walton.