By Mike Scott
Lightning is believed to be the cause of a fire that destroyed the Old Stone Church in St. Francisville on Sunday evening.
Firefighters from Wayland, Alexandria and the Clark County Rural Fire Departments responded to the afternoon blaze, which was reported around 4:30 Sunday afternoon.
According to witnesses on the scene, at least three people saw lightning strike the building, but the fire marshal will investigate the cause.
According to “A History of Clark County Missouri”, the Old Stone Church was originally a Baptist Church, built by Jeremiah Wayland, one of Clark County’s original settlers, in 1853. Wayland guaranteed the cost of the church, and donated the land.
Stone for the church was quarried from the cliffs along the Des Moines River above St. Francisville.
The 34x48 building had walls 20 inches thick.
It was heavily damaged more than 100 years ago, in 1904, when lightning ignited a fire. The building was remodeled again in 1921.
The last regular service was held July 6, 1952, and on that day, the two attending members, Tom Simpson and Mrs. Mauler, signed a quit claim deed giving the church to the Clark County Historical Society, which remains as the owner today.