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Big Woods Congregational Church


Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

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Oversize Drawer 24

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Big Woods Congregational Church, 1836-2006 | Northern Illinois University

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Collection Overview

Title: Big Woods Congregational Church, 1836-2006

Predominant Dates:1920-1996

ID: RHC/RC/311

Extent: 3.75 Linear Feet

Date Acquired: 05/17/2011

Subjects: Church of the Big and Little Woods, Congregationalists, Frontier and pioneer life, Prohibition, Religious Institutions- Illinois- Naperville, Underground Railroad, Women--Societies and clubs.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Big Woods Congregational Church (BWCC) collection represents a modest portion of the historical records pertaining to the church’s establishment in 1835 and growth throughout the years.  Types of records include church histories, membership and pastor lists, building renovations plans, land purchases, and Big Woods’ withdrawal from the United Church of Christ (UCC) and joining the National Association of Congregational Christ Churches (NACCC) in 1975. There are numerous church histories written by members, newspapers, and historians due to the church being established in the early settler period of Illinois.

Care was taken to maintain the donor’s original order of the collection.  The donor’s container lists can be found in the case file.

Collection Historical Note

In August of 1835, fourteen pioneers organized a “Church of Christ,” with the assistance of Presbyterian Rev. R.W. Gridley and Rev. N. C. Clark. The group met in the log cabin of Thompson Paxton; it was named the Church of Big and Little Woods because of the surrounding wooded areas.  In 1824, twenty members organized as a Congregational Church, but it was not until 1850 that they were able to build a sanctuary.  Members pledged abstinence from hard liquor and later became part of the Underground Railroad.  

Mission stipends from the Home Mission Society and the American Missionary Society allowed Big Woods Church to act as a base for establishing Congregational Churches in Aurora and West Chicago, as a regional base for the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), and as a training ground for Christian Endeavor. The Church also has an active Women’s Missionary Society that serves in Chicago, Aurora, and abroad.  Pastors have included four professors, over a dozen students of Wheaton College, and student interns of North Central College and Seminary in Naperville.  Big Woods also participates in local ecumenical missions in and around the surrounding community.

Subject/Index Terms

Church of the Big and Little Woods
Frontier and pioneer life
Religious Institutions- Illinois- Naperville
Underground Railroad
Women--Societies and clubs.

Administrative Information

Repository: Northern Illinois University

Access Restrictions: There are no restrictions on access to the collection.

Use Restrictions: Property rights in the collection are held by the Regional History Center; literary rights are dedicated to the public.

Acquisition Source: David Nasgowitz

Related Materials: Big Woods Congregational Church is a branch from the Batavia Congregational Church, reference RC 82 for additional information.

Box and Folder Listing

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Box 2
Folder 1: History: Various Articles on Big Woods' Pastors and Members, no date
Folder 2: Paxton Cabin Research, Schuster, 1985
Folder 3: Big Woods Withdrawal from United Church of Christ (UCC) and Joining National Association of Congregational Christian Churches (NACCC), 1975
Folder 4: Organ Dedication, 1951
Folder 5: Hynm Book Subscriptions, 1983
Folder 6: Survey - Road: Ferry, Sunrise, Meadow, Barclay, Rigi, no date
Folder 7: History: Abolition documents, Batavia, circa 1843
Folder 8: Free Church Polity Report to Congregational Christ Churches of the US, 1954
Folder 9: Congregational and Christian Conference of Illinois, 1957
Folder 10: Historical Booklet Commemorating the Centennial of the Batavia Congregational Church, 1935
Folder 11: "A History of Central Church"; and "100th Birthday of Yorkville Church Today,", no date, 1934
Folder 12: "First Congregational Church of Aurora"; and "Oldest Church Closes Sunday,", no date, 1968
Folder 13: History: Underground Railroad, no date
Folder 14: Our Little Farm Rhymes, Bartholomew, 1883-1933
Folder 15: National Association of Congregational Christian Churches (NACCC) Annual Meeting, 1975
Folder 16: National Association of Congregational Christian Churches (NACCC) Yearbook, 1975
Folder 17: List of Church Members, 1835-1841
Folder 18: Membership Lists, 1902-1940
Folder 19: Church Membership by County and Denomination, 1980
Folder 20: "Local Church Report", 1922-1966
Folder 21: History: "Organization of the Church...", no date
Folder 22: Letters of Transfer, 1834-1852

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