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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 1],
[Box 2],
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Box 3
Folder 1: Big Woods Congregational Church (BWCC) Ledger, 1899-1904
Folder 2: Ledger - Records of Big Woods Church, 1842-1890
Folder 3: History of Big Woods Congregational Church (BWCC), Letters and Correspondence, 1851
Folder 4: Biographies: Ferry, Wayne, Marquart, McKee, Paxton, Town, Gregg, no date
Folder 5: Correspondence to Reverend L. Foote, 1842
Folder 6: Church Minutes, 1887-1905
Folder 7: Missionary Society Secretary's Reports, 1907-1930)
Folder 8: Big Woods Temperance Union (Women's Christian Temperance Union - WCTU), Secretary's  Report, 1904-1909
Folder 9: Big Woods  WCTU (Women's Christian Temperance Union) Organization and Records, 1893-1904
Folder 10: Big Woods WCTU (Women's Christian Temperance Union) Secretary's Report, 1910-1927
Folder 11: Letter from Ronald Reagan, 1981
Folder 12: History: "The Ideals from our Church School,", no date
Folder 13: Maps and Pictures, no date
Folder 14: History: Ordination of David Nasgowitz; and service of Recognition, 1984, no date
Folder 15: Constitutions of the Big Woods Congregational Church (BWCC), no date
Folder 16: Bulletins, Various Pastors, 1984-1996

Browse by Box:

[Box 1],
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[Box 8],
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