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Churches of Christ & Christian Churches
in the Pacific Northwest


Lewis Co. map - 5.3 K
June 13, 2001
by Charles Dailey
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Boisfort  |  Centralia  |  Chehalis  |  Mossyrock  |  Napavine

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This county was named in honor of Captain Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame. That expedition was in 1804-1806.
Boisfort Yahoo Map
This western Lewis County community has a name meaning "strong prairie." Incorrect, but a bit easier to pronounce, was the name Baw Faw. To complicate matters even more, it is on Boistfort Road, spelled with a t. Evidently usage has dropped the hard-to-pronounce letter t. But notice that the Yahoo map retains the letter t in their spelling.

The Roundtree, White and Buchanan clans, members of the Christian Church from the midwest, were the first settlers in the area, as early as 1853. The church is thought to have been established in 1863.

A one sentence report in the Christian Messenger of May 10, 1877 reads,

Boyce Fort. Lewis Co. W. T. -- I organized a church on April 28th, of eleven members, and others are convinced of their duty and will soon obey the Great Redeemer. Moses N. Warren
Had the church ceased to meet? Or did Warren simply get them to select leaders and in that sense "organized" the church?

The Disciples Year Book of 1892 lists 25 members at Boistfort. Disciples historian Peterson also included Boistfort in his 1897 listing of churches.

A report appeared written by U. L. Harmon of Chehalis to the Christian Standard of 1893:

Chehalis, Sept. 28. -- At a meeting recently held at Boistfort, Lewis County, Washington by Elders Tinley and Boyles, 18 persons were added to the church. The elders, who had formerly served but resigned, were selected again to serve the congregation. The meeting was a splendid success.
From this we conclude that the church had been functioning for some years before the report was written.

Circuit-riding Judson Brown included "Baw Faw" on his monthly preaching rounds during 1900. The church probably closed as the families move to Centralia and other larger communities.

Centralia Yahoo Map
In 1870, a Church of Christ with 27 members was established at Ford's Prairie, 0.7 mile west of Interstate 5 at the main Centralia exit. "Uncle Sid" Ford was a judge and also kept a small hotel which may be seen in the photo.

James and Emeline Roundtree - 3.9 K
James and
Emeline Roundtree
1st Centralia Building - 13.8 K
1st Centralia Church
on Ford's Prairie
between 1871 and 1876

Among the charter members were Dr. James and Emeline Roundtree of Illinois and their children Mary Adeline, Jasper and Julina Jane. They had spent a winter at Milwaukie, Oregon after traveling with the Murphy-Davidson wagon train in 1852. James' sister Mary married Ethan Allan Shirley who became a trustee of Christian College in Monmouth, Oregon.

Eventually the Roundtree family settled near Ford's Prairie and helped establish the Church of Christ. Centralia (then called Centerville) is in Lewis County.

Thomas Taylor, formerly a Baptist, was the first minister. Like most of the earliest churches in western Washington, their meeting place was built on or near the military road (now Jackson Highway). In 1871 they built a 20' x 30' building at Ford's Prairie. We think that it is the low building in the photo at the right. Notice the wagon trail. The house on the left is probably the Halfway House owned by John Buchanan.

There is a profile of Thomas Taylor.
In 1876 the church building was dismantled and moved (largely by Jasper Roundtree) to the corner of Pine and Gold streets in the developing town of Centralia. According to Kerry Serl, the property was purchased from George Washington, the African-American founder of Centralia. The price was $1.00. See at:

A related comment is recorded in Centralia, The First Fifty Years:

"The marriage had taken place in the little Christian Church on Gold Street. That pleased Adeline (Roundtree Borst) because she felt as if the church almost belonged to her family. . . . Her father and mother had been among its first members. Then her brother Jasper had helped tear the building down and move it into town. Jasper, folks said, wheeled part of it in, in a wheelbarrow, and some of it he even carried on his back." (Page 120)
Joseph and Adeline (Roundtree) Borst's home is is open to the public Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4, Memorial Day through Labor Day.

1910 Centralia building - 8.8 K
1910 building

Because of the coming of the railroad in 1872, the focus of the city had moved to this new area. We wonder if the new location, just one block from the tracks, proved to be noisy because thirteen years later they built at Pine and Silver, three blocks from the tracks. They built another building on that same location in 1910.

The hand-written Articles of Incorporation filed with Lewis County state in part:

"That the terms of admission to membership to and in said Church of Christ shall be that the applicant shall believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God and shall confess the name of Jesus before men, repent of his sins and obey the command of Jesus by being immersed in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

Full time workers sent out from the congregation include David Byerlee, Jewell Roberts, Carl Gelder, Lyle Sellards, Gerald VanDoren, Clinton Rigg and Jack C. Marshall.

Through the years, the congregation came to be called the First Christian Church of Centralia and that common usage was made legal in 1956. In 1961 the congregation purchased land for its present facility at 1215 West Main.

Some of this information has been supplied by local church historian Donna Joachim.

Napavine Yahoo Map
Napavine in Lewis County is seven miles south of Chehalis, just off I-5. Its name is from an Indian word meaning small prairie.

The earliest record of the Napavine Christian Church may be the one in the Christian Standard of January 9, 1886. A. Harman writes:

Napavine church - 9.5 K
1913 building

There has been none of our preaching brethren at Napavine till I went there this summer. My first two sermons were delivered in a hall where the Methodists held their service. After the Methodists had dedicated their new house of worship they invited me there, and I accepted.
My first sermon there resulted my having the privilege of taking three confessions. They were all heads of families. I was about to close my service when one came forward, without invitation, and said "I wish to confess the Savior; two more immediately followed and I baptized them in the Newaukum river on next Lord's day, the Methodist minister being present.

Spelling and grammar of the original have been retained.

This story records the beginning of the congregation. It must have flourished for a few years because by 1913 they built the building as seen in the photo.

With the coming of automobiles, members could easily drive to Centralia or Chehalis. This has been the fate of many small congregations from the past. The church no longer meets and the building was remodeled into the Napavine City Hall. Now the building is occupied by Let's Play

Mossyrock Yahoo Map

Mossyrock Christian Church

Disciple historian Orval Peterson lists a Christian Church in Mossyrock in his 1897 listing of Churches of Christ and Christian Churches. One of the early circuit-riding ministers was Judson Brown in 1900.

The Landis family was involved in the early days of the Mossyrock Christian Church with the building being built in 1908. But it died and was later resurrected as the Mossyrock Community Church about 1940.

Supplying the leadership at this time was Melvin Core, a local school teacher who was later ordained by the Chehalis Christian Church to the work of ministry.

Chehalis Yahoo Map
Chehalis Christian Church
A Stone-Campbell related church was in existence here as early as 1893 because Elder Ulysses E. Harmon wrote to the Christian Standard, an Ohio publication, about the church in Boistfort. His letter was dated September 28, 1893. Perhaps the group disbanded temporarily and was restarted.

According to their own history, the development of First Christian Church began in Chehalis in 1897. R. E. Dunlap held a gospel meeting, using the Baptist Building. Attendance averaged 75 each night. By 1899, a group had formed in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ulysses E. Harmon.

Some of the early members were Mrs. C. L. Adelofte, Asa Harmon, Lucy Harmon, Ulysses E. Harmon, Ellen M. Harmon, John H. Miller, Mrs. S. E. Miller, George Miller, F. M. Rockwood, James H. Wheeler, Minnie Wheeler and William Wheeler.

There was no regular preaching in the earliest years. James Wheeler, father of William Wheeler, preached some as did C. F. Goode. Judson Brown included Chehalis in his monthly preaching circuit in 1900.

At first, the church met in the homes of its members. Several protracted meetings were held in public buildings. By 1904 the church had formally organized and by 1906 they were in their first building. The current building is an updated version of the original one and at the same location, 1175 Prindle Street.

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