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  • Dale C. Maley

A long-serving minister

Rev. Charles S. Davies was the longest-serving known minister in the history of Fairbury and served as the Presbyterian Minister for 45 years.


The family story of Rev. C. S. Davies began with the birth of David Davies in 1789 in Cardiganshire, Wales. He was the son of Even Davies (1759-1843) and his wife, Elizabeth Davies. Evan Davies was an elder in the church in Wales. Three of the sons of Even and Elizabeth Davies became ministers. These sons included Rev. Samuel Davies, Rev. Jenkin Davies, and Rev. David Davis (1789-1861).


Rev. David Davies began preaching at the Pensarn church in Wales in 1814. In 1824, Rev. David Davis married Mary Jenkins in Wales. He was 35, and she was 24 when they married.


One of David and Mary Davies' sons was Even Llewellyn Davies. He was born in Cardiganshire, Wales, in 1827. In 1830, Rev. David Davies built a new house on a part of the Tirgwyn Estate and they called their home Brynawen. Rev. David Davies was 41 when they constructed the house.


In 1837, Rev. David and Mary Davies emigrated from Wales to Jackson County, Ohio. David preached to the Welsh settlers. One of his preaching stations was near his home, which stood on the old turnpike road between Gallipolis and Chillicothe, ten miles east of Jackson Court House. A second preaching station was seven miles away at the house of Isaac Evans in Gallia County. These congregations were soon organized into churches, with houses of worship and flourishing Sunday schools. In 1840, Rev. David Davies was ordained to the ministry.


Around 1840, the Underground Railroad was created. The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States during the early to mid-19th century. Enslaved African Americans used it primarily to escape into free states and from there to Canada. The network, mainly the work of free African Americans, was assisted by abolitionists and others sympathetic to the cause of the escapees. The enslaved people who risked capture and those who aided them are also collectively referred to as the passengers and conductors of the "Underground Railroad."


Rev. David Davies was a strong Abolitionist who wanted to fight against slavery. Rev. David Davies became a member of the Underground Railroad in Ohio.


In 1856, Rev. David Davies moved from Ohio to Blue Earth County in Minnesota. He preached there until he died on April 17, 1861, at the age of 71.


In 1860, Rev. Even L. Davies, son of Rev. David Davis, married Abigail J. Abbie in Jackson County, Ohio. He was 33, and she was 19 when they married. They had three children. He was a Presbyterian Minister. The three children of Even and Abigail Davies were Llewellyn James Davies (1865-1950), Mary Anna Davies (1867-1935), Charles Stanley Davies (1872-1956), and Abigail J. Davies (1873-1933)


Llewellyn J. Davies was educated at Lake Forest Academy and the Hartford and McCormick Theological Seminaries. He married Helen Goodsill in 1892, and he and his bride sailed to China. They had no children. Both of them lived in China until they died.


Mary Anna Davies and Abigaril J. Davies never married.


Charles S. Davies, like his brother, attended Lake Forest Academy and then the McCormick Theological Seminaries. Upon graduation, he became the minister at the Fairbury Presbyterian Church in 1896.


The Fairbury Presbyterian Church was in bad shape at the time, and the congregation was discouraged and seriously considering dissolution. Within a few months, the church grew due to the originality and energy of Rev. Davies. He became very active in community affairs.


In his early years at Fairbury, Rev. Davies was interested in promoting athletics for boys and young men. These boys and men later became active supporters of the church.


The Blade reported that Rev. Davies was of Welsh descent. Rev. Davies often demonstrated the Welsh people's love of music by leaving the pulpit and joining the choir in singing hymns.


The congregation held many celebration events on the 35th anniversary of Rev. Davies being the Presbyterian Church Minister in 1931. The congregation hoped Rev. Davies would continue his service for many more years.


After 45 years of serving as the minister, Rev. Davies retired in 1941 to move to Philadelphia to care for a sick sister. Rev. Davies moved back to Fairbury in 1948.


Near the end of his life, Rev. Davies moved to the Ward nursing home in Fairbury. One cold January day in 1956, he was found lying on the ground in the vacant lot across the street from the Nursing home. He was rushed to the Fairbury Hospital but was pronounced dead. A coroner's inquest found he had died from a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 84.


A large funeral was held at the Presbyterian Church. The pallbearers were: Robert Nussbaum, William Wharton, Perry Burroughs, Marvin Reaney, William Gittinger, and Howard Fugate. Honorary pallbearers were J. K. Huette, A. J. Kilgus, Clair Barnes, Stanley Barnes, Swift Dawson, William Fugate, Wallace Ramseyer, C. R. Voris, Jerry Denbo, Floyd McGillen, and Harold Scheld. Rev. Davies was buried in Graceland Cemetery.


Rev. Charles S. Davies was the longest-serving known minister in the history of Fairbury at 45 years. He conducted hundreds of weddings and funerals in Fairbury. He revived a failing church and made it a vital institution for over four decades.

(Dale Maley's local history article is sponsored each Monday by Dr. Charlene Aaron & Antiques & Uniques of Fairbury)


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