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BY MIKE AVITT
I found something really interesting about the religious life in Knowlton, so I’ll just share everything I have.
On July 20, 1922, lightning struck the Methodist Church and burned it to the ground. What the newspaper said about the history of the building came as a shock to me. This church building had been erected northeast of Centenary (Knowlton) Cemetery before Knowlton became a town. After Knowlton became a town, the building was moved to the new village as the Methodist Episcopal Church, which was probably the denomination, originally.
There were two churches in Knowlton and the Methodist was the stronger, more stable one. There were about a dozen different pastors in the church’s thirty year Knowlton existence. The Methodist parsonage was sold at auction on May 1, 1924 to Andrew Yaryan.
Regular services at this church ceased about 1916, but the Baptist Church only lasted ten years. In April 1890, Rev. G. W. Ringler and J. H. Armstrong were collecting money for the construction of the Knowlton Baptist Church. The church was built and Rev. Ringler also preached at the Maloy Baptist Church.
Access to Maloy was easy via the Chicago Great Western Railway. However, Rev. Ringler abruptly quit preaching in March 1900, for reasons unknown to me. Just as strange, he didn’t leave town. He and his wife Martha stayed and worked in Knowlton, she as postmistress. Rev. Ringler was on the school board and held a few different jobs. Mrs. Ringler died in 1911 and the reverend left town. Her maiden name was Casner.
Meanwhile, the Baptist Church did not sit empty. It was used for meetings, revivals, and other services. Guest preachers held services here, too. In May 1904, Rev. Ferguson came to pastor the church but I found nothing after that announcement.
While there were only two churches, I recently found a third denomination. In October 1923, Church of the Nazarene services were being held somewhere in Knowlton by Pastors M. E. and Dean DeVoll. These services continued into 1924.
The Church of the Nazarene was born out of the Holiness Movement from about 120 years ago. Diagonal is the only Ringgold County town I know of to have a Church of the Nazarene church building.
There aren’t as many churches now, but there aren’t as many people either.