Monday, November 30, 2015

Elim Bible Christian Church & Cemetery

A small church, school and cemetery existed for 20 years in the Peachey Belt area.  No visible trace can be seen today and not much information can be found on its history.  Here is what we know.
The Elim Bible Christian Church stood on the corner of Huxtable and Short roads to the immediate west of Direk railway siding, on part section 4264.  The church had a small cemetery and a school functioned here for a short time.
Erected during the time of S. Keen’s residence on Gawler Plains and opened on February 22nd 1857 by Mr James Rowe and Mr T Keen, Bible Christian Ministers. 

It was erected at a cost £360 in 1857 thanks to an interest free loan from George Fife Angas who had encouraged the settlers to come here.  £200 was borrowed from Angas with the promise to repay £100 in two years and £100 three years after date.  No interest charged.
The main family associated with this church was the Taylor family. Other names that have appeared in relation to the church are Joseph Ashton, Hillman, A Burford, T Hatcher, Parr, Andrews, Trewin, Thomas Shutter, H Heaslip, Patterson. Ward trustee of the chapel.
In 1853 Reverend Samuel Keen arrived in Gawler on Bible Christian mission work and within a few years he had opened a dozen Bible Christian churches across the plains. The governance structure of the Primitive Methodist and the Bible Christian churches encouraged this.  Local families could decide they wanted a church, usually with the urging of Rev. Keen, or someone else. Then they donated land and money to erect the church which was usually built by the men in the community. No church hierarchy permission or bishop approval was needed. People just got on and did it.

The church circuit was based at Angle Vale, the other closest church was Zoar on Argent road, Penfield.
The small burial grounds next to the church disappeared over time. Elim had a small school attached. It was a vigorous congregation but land settlement patterns changed and the church declined in numbers and closed in 1879. The land was sold in 1890. One of the Taylor sons, Sam became a lay preacher by the time he was 18 years old and preached for another 77 years until he was 95. Other sons moved on to establish the Bible Christian church in Kulpara, near Port Wakefield. Another family, the Wait family who worshipped at Elim moved north near Redbanks and helped established Eden Bible Christian church there in 1875.

A marriage between Bryan McHugh and Christina McGagnor was recorded in the newspaper in 1866.  Bryan’s father was John a farmer at Peachey Belt.
Only a few burials took place in the cemetery, probably on 5 or 6, as the ground proved to be unsuitable for internments, due to a high water table.

Reference has been found to John Davies buried in the cemetery on 20 August 1866.  John drowned in the Gawler River five days previously trying to cross the high river in a dray that overturned.
A grant received by the Adelaide Cemetery Trust in 1932 allowed a fence to be erected around the graveyard.  One source states that the headstones were placed against the fence at one time when the land was being used as a polo field[i].

Church building was demolished and furniture sold 1879.

Elim school
Teachers
1857 - 1858        Josiah Rogers
1864 – 1874       Sparkhall Robinson

1863 – 1864       Samuel Davie
Some difficulty in conducting school as it was not supported by its neighbours on account of being disappointed by the teachers.  



Year

Boys

Girls

Total

1857     

 

 

23

1865

14

10

24

1866

17

13

30

1867

20

15

35

1868

16

12

28

1869

19

8

27

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