St. Clair County Remnants Of The Past


St. Clair County
Remnants Of The Past

Fifty Years In The Baptist Ministry

Dr. Lawler Celebrates the Event in the Church at Osceola

His Original Poem
Now fifty years of service done,
For Him who ever knows his own;
Now fifty years since work begun,
In Jesus’ name – for him alone.
And all these years hath God looked on,
To see how well His servant did;
And all these years the work went on,
Unless, perchance, did God forbid.
Like morning clouds the Civil war,
Obscured the plans so well begun; -
A gloom that spread both near and far,
As smoke came out the signal gun.
Ten years and more a teacher’s toils,
Were added to the preacher’s task; -
Ten year and more of Earth’s turmoils,
Were things through which the preacher passed.
Then ten years more of graces given,
To preach and pray and work for Him;
In leading souls from earth to heaven,
To give them aid lest lights grow dim.
Then, strangers took the kinsman’s place,
And fields all new and timorous folds;
And strange and new as every face,
Instead of all whom memory holds.
Time went on and flocks grew strong,
And strangers more familiar grew;
And crowds of people swelled the throng,
As great as ere the preacher knew.
Another change must now take place,
And far from friends of former time;
A Western home with mountain face,
For twenty years must now be mine
And on the busy years have rolled,
And work for God was wondrous sweet.
Much more than ever could be told,
By human tongue your ears to greet.
The golden afternoon has come,
The shadows fall toward the East;
And here again in childhood’s home,
We find in God a glorious feast.
And when the evening shades appear,
And sun is sinking in the west;
We’ll think of all our friends so dear,
And find a quiet place to rest.
And when the starry night comes on,
And homeward plods the weary swain;
We’ll find in God a glorious morn,
And hope to meet you all again.
B.F. Lawler

The anniversary services of Dr. B.F. Lawler, pastor of the Baptist Church of Osceola, Mo. were commemorated at the Baptist Church Friday evening March 18th, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination as a minister. Aside from the church and congregation there were a number of friends and invited guests from home and other towns. Wallace W. Lawton presided. The service opened by singing “The king’s Business”, followed by prayer by Rev. W.S. Wear of Adrian, Rev. Wm. M. Love, moderator of St. Clair County Association, deliver the address of welcome, setting forth the object of the meeting and from his active experience as a minister of St. Clair County gave many very interesting incidents in the life of Dr. Lawler, the work of our early ministers in this part of the State. A beautiful anthem by the choir, and Dr. J.P. Greene, President Wm. Jewell College of Liberty, was introduced who had been invited to preach the sermon.
At the close of the sermon Dr. Greene presented Dr. Lawler, with a purse in which there was $135 contributed by his friends in Osceola and elsewhere in this state, Nebraska and Colorado.
After singing “How Firm a Foundation”, by choir and congregation, the original ordination papers, with a summary of the life of Dr. Lawler was read by John T. Fields, Church Clerk. It was expected at this time to have a response from the Coon Creek church were Dr. Lawler was ordained fifty years ago, but he not being present, Rev. W.S. Weir, a nephew of Dr. Lawler who was present on that occasion made a few remarks telling of the impressions made on him then a boy aged twelve. This was followed by a few appropriate remarks by Deacon T.D. Hancock, senior deacon, this also being his birthday, he being 77 years of age. The male quartett, A.W. Allinson, Geo. W. Davies, R.E. Porta and W.W. Lawton, was next on the program. Rev. T.D. Todd, of Calhoun spoke of the work fo Dr. Lawler in that town many years ago. Rev. McCluney, of the Presbyterian church, responded for the ministers of Osceola, which was followed by a beautiful solo by Rev. Simmons of the Methodist church. This sweet song touched the heart of everyone.
Next was Sidney Bromfield, District Missionary of St. Clair County Association, whose theme was the “Minister as an Evangalist”, followed by C.A. Higgins, Principal of the City Public School, who spoke on “The Minister as a Teacher”. The closing address was by Rev. A.H. Dent, whose subject was “The Minister and his Message”. An original poem written by Dr. Lawler, especially for the occasion was read by Deacon Geo. W. Davies, and the song composed by Dr. Lawler, “Song of my childhood”, by request of his many friends were sang by him after which he very tenderly responded in appropriate words. Dr. J.P. Greene offered a closing prayer, afterwards the ladies of the church served ice cream and cake to all in attendance.


Dr. B.F. Lawler was born in the state of Tennessee on the 31st day of January, 1834. Was converted at the age of 14 at his father’s home having attended a meeting at the home church. At the age of 17 he gave music lessons in his home school house. He taught school at the age of 19 and was baptized when he was 22 years old. At the age of 24 he commenced private study for the ministry, having previously bought for this purpose Greek New Testament and readers.
When 25 years of age his church licensed him to preach. Continuing to teach music he exercised his gift as a preacher in different parts of the county.
In order that he might be qualified for the great work to which he had been called the young preacher took lessons in Greek from Prof. M.A. Page of Kalamazoo College Michigan, and on the 18th day of March, 1860 Dr. Lawler was ordained to the Gospel ministry. The ordination services were held in Coon Creek church in the south east part of St. Clair county, Missouri, in the 26th year of the young preacher’s age. The ordaining council consisted of Calvin Maxwell, J.E. Woody and W.R. McClain.
He was pastor two years of Cedar Creek church, by whose request he was ordained. The war coming on the meetings had to close but the pastor never resigned. Changes came rapidly and little could be done in church or school work for more than two years.
In August, 1895, while preaching and teaching in Pettis and Henry counties, the church at Windsor settled him as her pastor. While pastor at Windsor he did supply work at Elk Fork, Calhoun, Mount Gilead and Bethlehem, during which time he was principal several terms of the Calhoun Baptist Academy. In 1871 he gave full time to Windsor church as her pastor teaching school at the same time in the basement of the building. Beginning in 1876 and continuing seven years he occupied a joint call from Salem and Prairie Union churches in Nebraska. Then for a year he did joint work as a pastor for Salem and Humboldt, Neb. Then for three years he served the church at Humboldt as pastor for full time. Then in September 1887 he was called to the pastorate of the First Baptist church at Trinidad, Colorado, serving that church faithfully as her pastor for twenty years, and after a vacation of less than two months on the 20th day of October, 1907, he was settled as pastor of this church continuing with us up to the present time which is two years and five months.
In 1881 Dr. Lawler published his first book entitled “Sermons, Letters and Lectures”. Since that time he has published six others, namely “Forty Years In the Ministry”, “These Sayings of Mine”, “The Lowest Room”, “The Man Behind The Bars”, “My Teachers” and “The Domain of Grace”.
In 1891 La Grange College conferred on him the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Divinity.

Rev. Dr. J.P. Greene

The recent visit to Osceola of Dr. Greene, President of William Jewell College, in connection with the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the ministerial life of the Rev. B.F. Lawler, merits more than a passing notice. Dr. Greene is a great scholar, a distinguished theologian, an eminent teacher, whose pupils may be found not only throughout Missouri, but in many other states. It is conceded that he is one of the brainiest men in any church. He is a man of lofty ideals, and his life has been regulated in accordance with them. He is the practical founder of William Jewel College: he has made the institution what it is, one of the best in this section of the country.
Mr. Lawler richly deserves all the congratulations and good wishes which he has received. One who has wholly devoted more than an average life time to the spiritual elevation and betterment of his fellow men; who has stopped many from traveling the road which leads to moral predition; and who has always stood for the good and against evil, is certainly full worthy of our esteem and admiration. Physically Mr. Lawler is an old man, but mentally he is a youth. “His eye is not dim, nor his natural force abated.”
Thos. M. Johnson

His 81st Birthday.
Last Sunday was the 81st birthday of Dr. B.F. Lawler, the venerable and honored pastor of the Baptist church and the occasion was remembered by several of his friends.
Saturday a dinner was given in his honor by Mrs. Geo. H. Penn of Lowry City, at which was present his venerable sister, Mrs. Sarah Higgins of near Collins; Mrs. Eliza Cauthon, Mrs. M.G. Jones and Rev. H.W. Eversole. Mrs. Penn is a niece of Dr. Lawler, being a daughter of the late “Uncle Bob” Lawler.
Sunday the Doctor had his pulpit decorated with carnations and was the recipient of several presents from members of his congregation, and that day he took dinner with little Eleanor Lawton, who was celebrating her 5th milestone.
For a man of his age, Dr. Lawler is well preserved, and as his “Reminiscences” in this paper fully attest, has a remarkably clear memory. His friends – and everyone who knows him claims him as a friend – hope that he may be spared for many years to go about the Master’s work.

Submitted by: Stacy Kelly