Camp Ground Church ~ Sullivan County, Missouri.

Camp Ground Church

The Camp Ground Church is on the National Registry of Historic Places.

The Camp Ground Church, according to the “History of Missouri Illustrated 1888” says the Methodist Episcopal Church South was organized about 1852 in Bowman Twp. Tents and sheds were erected for people and animals. During the Civil War it was burned to the ground and not rebuilt until 1901 as it stands today. The Rev. Jacob Wattenbarger, Rev. Mr. Dockery and Rev. Mr. Naylor were the original organizers.

Also listed was “The First Cumberland Presbyterian Church,” organized July 28, 1855 at Christopher Cooper's close by Camp Ground. A story told about the very dry year of 1857 in which a special prayer was offered during a religious gathering for rain. Before the meeting started on Saturday evening it began to rain and became almost as big a nuisance as the dry weather. Some members complained that Rev. Mr. Nevins was “known to overdo everything he undertook.

The name Camp Ground, according to story/legend, say it was a favorite camping place for overland wagon trains and travelers. Some say it was so named because of the two faiths and religious meetings. It was the gathering place for the entire county. Settlers from Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and various other places came and sat tied on “Big Medicine Creek” until they 'settled in' on their own land.

The oldest person known buried at Camp Ground was Jane Cooper, born 1793, wife of Christopher Cooper. Enoch Lane and Sam Brown selected the first grave sites. The first grave was for Sarah E. (d. 9-15-1853) infant daughter of Sam A. and Susan Brown. A lot of early graves are not marked.

In 1899 Sam White, Leroy Page and Barton Weston circulated petitions and raised enough money to purchase 10 acres of land from John and Emily West for $200. The Camp Ground Church as it was then and still is, has been the home of numerous faiths, the last of which was Baptist. In 1948 the church was badly in need of repairs, so money was raised and it was put in first class condition. Later Mark Mairs and Clellan Spencer spearheaded the effort to restore the cemetery grounds and to this day it is well maintained. Annual basket dinners are held on Sunday of Memorial and Labor Day weekends. This spot, made holy by the ones who came this way and their strong faith in the Lord, leaves its mark on yet another new generation to help them understand just a small amount of the history it played in the settlement of this great nation.

The Camp Ground Church and Cemetery was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1985.[2]

A perpetual charitable trust fund has been established to care for the cemetery.


Contributed by Betty Gramling
REF. Sullivan County Sesquicentennial Book, 1995, pgs. 17 & 18.

A pencil church, graphically created by site coordinator.

Surnames Listed In Camp Ground Church Submission

  • Brown
  • Cooper
  • Dockery
  • Lane
  • Mairs
  • Naylor
  • Nevins
  • Page
  • Spencer
  • Wattenbarger
  • West
  • Weston
  • White


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Page last modified: hand November 1, 2009