John Nail, the oldest son of Henry and Mary Keller Nail, was born in Rowan County, North
Carolina, in 1799. In approximately 1820, he married Martha Ray Nail, daughter of Thomas and
Elizabeth Pierce Ray. In 1821, while they were still living in North Carolina, their first child was
born, a daughter whom they named Methana. In November 1822, John bought land in Indiana
from the U.S. government and, shortly thereafter, he and his wife and daughter moved to Shelby
County, preceding by approximately one year the migration to Indiana of his parents,
Mary Keller Nail and the remainder of their family. The rest of John and Martha's children
were born in Indiana.
Martha Ray Nail
JOHN NAIL (1799-1875), son of
Mary Keller Nail and
MARTHA RAY NAIL (1803-1865), daughter of Thomas & Elizabeth Pierce Ray
In approximately 1852, John Nail and his wife, Martha Ray Nail, and their family moved from
Shelby County, Indiana, to Mongomery County, Illinois. John's mother, Mary Keller Nail, who had
been a widow since 1827, moved from Indiana to Illinois with John and Martha to live out her last
years with her oldest son and his family. John Nail, Martha Ray Nail, and Mary Keller Nail are all
buried in the Cherry Grove Cemetery in Butler Grove Township, Montgomery County, Illinois.
As the first of the following two excerpts from early historical documents indicates, John Nail and
his family figured prominently in the early religious history of their new community in Illinois. Family
tradition holds that John Nail donated the land for Cherry Grove Cemetery. Although we have been
unable to verify this conclusively, the abstracts in possession of the current owners document that
John Nail did own that piece of property from 1852 until 1866, so the inference seems quite
(From 'Some Centenarians of Butler Grove Township, Montgomery Co., Illinois, 1898',
"A Brief History of the Village of Butler", by Rev. T.E. Spelman.)
"CHERRY GROVE M.E. CHURCH"
We find that as early as the year 1843, there was existing a church with a considerable membership in the community now called Cherry Grove, three and a half miles NW of Butler. Just what its
membership was, and how long it had existed as a Church we have not ascertained. But from some
cause, probably deaths and removals, this Church so declined that in a few years, there remained of
it but a feeble (sic.) remnant. About the year 1852, it was recognized, and probably for the first time,
elected regular Trustees, and assumed the name of Cherry Grove Church.
The following, so far as we are able to give them, are the names of those who assumed the
responsibilities of membership at the re-organization: John Nail, Mrs. Martha Nail, Nathan Nail,
Mrs. Sarah Nail, Mrs. Susan Williams, Anderson Walker and wife, Menassah Came and wife, Wm. Williams and wife, James Roberts and wife, and Mrs. Sarah Baker.
The congregation, in an early day, worshiped in a private dwelling house upon the farm now
belonging to D.C. Burris. The building now known as Cherry Grove Church was erected about
the year 1856.
(From 'Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, Volume II, 1918', edited by Bateman and Selby, Munsell
Publishers, Chicago, pp. 854-855.)
There were three early churches founded in Butler Grove Township, outside of Butler, the first
being known as the Montgomery County Methodist Episcopal Church, which was held in a church
building about five miles north of Hillsboro and about the same distance northeast of Butler. It was
organized in 1836 and is now in good working condition and regularly supplied with ministers sent
by the Methodist conference.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Butler, also known as Ware's Grove Church, was organized
December 24, 1860 by Rev. J.... Livingood, with a membership of five, namely: Jacob Scherer,
Henry Meisenheimer, Mrs. Rachel Meisenheimer, Mrs. Mary Scherer and Mrs. Rebecca Cross.
In 1862, they erected a church edifice. The subsequent history of this church, with its pastors, is as
follows: Rev. Livingood, J.B. Cromer, George C. Cromer and for the last twenty or more years by
Rev. Ezra Keller of Hillsboro. While there are larger churches in the county, there is no more devoted
congregation than that of Ware's Grove Church.
The other early church was known as the Cherry Grove Methodist Episcopal Church, which was
established in 1838 and located about three and one-half miles northwest of Butler. It was reorganized as the Cherry Grove church in 1851. This country church for many years was a prominent center
of religious interest in the township but as the village of Butler and other neighboring communities built
churches more accessible to the people and better equipped, naturally the rural church ceased to
attract and after a period of relaxation, the Church house was sold by order of the Conference and
the membership scattered to the various surrounding churches.
All the above were submitted by Melinda