When asked to write some commemorative words for the 175th Anniversary of the Community Church of Barrington, I knew that I would be on some familiar historical territory, but I did not realize how much I would touch upon my own walk with history in Barrington. Through Peer Lykke, the Church provided me with historical documents that added a completely new dimension to my own collection of Barrington history materials.
First, there is Arnett C. Lines. For those of us who have striven to continue enlightening the greater community about its history, Lines “History of Barrington” is the “bible”, with every facet of community life and the people who have woven its tapestry, recorded for posterity. Throughout his life, he wrote, made notes, collected genealogies, and above all, moved among those who, like himself, were still so close to those who had settled the area beginning in the mid-1830s.
Little did I know that this same monumental attention to detail would be given to his own church, the Community Church of Barrington. While some records were lost in a fire an age ago, it is all there in Lines’ pages, from detailing the first gathering of the Baptists in 1847, using, as many denominations did then, a schoolhouse on Penny Road, until in 1853 they rented the South Church at Barrington Center, from the dispersing Congregationalists.
Arnett Lines documented his church through its decades as it moved to the Village of Barrington in 1859, and many of those who had pioneered settlement in the countryside came with their pastor into the new village. Here, through war and peace, through depression and pandemic, through times of loss and tragedy, and joyful gatherings, a core group of members and their pastors maintained the soundness of the church’s spiritual foundations, and until this day, the door is always open.
The second surprise for me in receiving priceless documents to work with was found in the pages of “The One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary Booklet” published in 1997. I first came to Barrington with the Historical Society in 1980, and back then we had a wonderful group of volunteers, many of them members of Barrington’s oldest families and oldest churches.
There smiling at me from the past is Millie Thorp, beloved in the church and the Historical Society; there is Hazel and Howard Ernst, Howie was our treasurer for many years. There are Ray and Lenore Hylander, Evah Lager, and Ethel Hanson, the biggest Chicago Cubs fan anywhere. Grace Castle, her family, pioneers of the east side of Barrington along Northwest Highway, and Jennie Lines. Yes, I did meet Jennie Lines, not long before she passed away in the home on West Lake Street that had been built by her father, Fred Lines.
Unfortunately, I never met Arnett C. Lines, brother to Jennie Lines. I am trying to think what it must have been like inside his head and his memory. Perhaps he was smart and wrote everything down immediately. Unlike this writer, who still retains a lot in her memory.
Member of the church, and to be forever entwined with my historical life, there was Ruth Ahrens Munson. She, who kept us honest, no revisionist history for Ruthie, it was what it was. Last but not least, there was Arthur L. Rice, Jr. and his wife Carol. Art would become president of the Historical Society in years when it needed a strong advocate for its work.
This remarkable group of “old timers” welcomed this newcomer and showed her the way around this dear old town. There were many other volunteers from other churches and organizations that supported the Historical Society as volunteers, but this 175th Anniversary of the Community Church of Barrington gives me the opportunity to say a special “thank you” to its many members who helped me walk along the paths of Barrington’s history.
Barrington is remarkable for the strengths of its faith community, not least, those of the greatest longevity and the ability to adapt to changing times. I am so pleased to share in saluting the Community Church of Barrington on its 175th Anniversary, and its own steadfast walk with Barrington’s history.
Barbara L. Benson grew up in Kent, England, and later moved to New York. She settled in Barrington and has walked with our history since she first arrived here in 1980.