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Historic church restoring time-honored windows

A Jacksonville Stained Glass Co. employee carefully carries the top portion of the west sanctuary window inside the Frankford, Mo., First Christian Church on Monday, Nov. 13. The window was completely disassembled in June, with each piece of glass being polished and repaired of any chips or cracks, before being reassembled at the company's studio in Jacksonville, Ill. Photo contributed by Ethan Colbert.


FRANKFORD, MO. - When 30-year-old Elder William Watts Boatman resigned his role as minister of the Christian Church at Frankford in late November 1894, he left behind a significant legacy to not only the congregation, but to the community as a whole.

It was under Boatman’s leadership that the growing congregation constructed a brick church building, roughly modeled upon the newly constructed church in the Mount Zion neighborhood in nearby Marion County. The new church at Frankford was started in 1893, and completed in 1894, at 111 North Main Cross.

The church building was dedicated on Feb. 18, 1894, and was constructed so that the auditorium could seat 500 or more people.

The church architect was O.A. Bartholomew, an active Disciples of Christ clergyman in St. Louis. The St. Louis Globe Democrat explained, in an article in the Sept. 13, 1888 edition, that Bartholomew, “has found recreation, enjoyment and usefulness in the study and practice of architecture.” In September 1888, he served as architect for the new First Christian Church, located on the south side of Locust Street, east of Compton Avenue, St. Louis.

A special feature of the Frankford church’s construction 130 years ago - when Elder Boatman was in residence - was the installation of 26 stained glass windows.

Those windows have served as a backdrop for weddings and funerals for the entire life of the church, said Ethan Colbert, a life-long member.

“In total we have 26 stained glass windows, in the belfry, the sanctuary, in Sunday School classrooms - there is stained glass throughout this building. 

“Members have a significant emotional attachment to these windows,” Colbert said.


Several years ago, church members noticed that a window on the south side of the sanctuary appeared to have wood rot on the outside. “The question is, how do we get that fixed?” Colbert said. “We were tasked with finding a company that could look at that, but could also look at the stained glass windows as well.

“It is an historic church, a notable sanctuary,” he said. While the members of the Frankford church own their building, representatives from the Disciples Church Extension Fund came to Frankford and toured the building. “They started to point out issues. Sometimes you overlook flaws. They opened our eyes to some of the issues. Windows were bending, the building was settling and glass was cracking.”

Colbert said that church members had to have a frank conversation about what the church family wanted to do with the windows. 

“Take them out? Replace them with plain glass windows? Or to roll up our sleeves, take a step in faith, and complete the massive undertaking staring us in the face and have these windows restored?”

Members decided to restore the windows, doing the work in phases. “We just completed the second phase of what likely could be five phases,” Colbert said. The church board has yet to approve the last three phases.

They solicited bids from St. Louis and Iowa, before selecting the Jacksonville Stained Glass Company of Jacksonville, Ill. 

“They have been a tremendous partner,” Colbert said. “They understand these windows mean a great deal to a lot of people.

“They take care of our glass. They are restoring 95 to 100 percent of the original stained glass that was in the windows.”

Thus far, the company has restored three large windows in the sanctuary. 

Bit of history

The windows on the west side of the building were dedicated to the memory of J.W. Cash’s 2-year-old daughter, May Cash (1887-1890) who died during a flu outbreak.

James William Cash was a Pike County farmer who was one of Frankford’s highly respected citizens. He died in September 1927. His funeral services were held at the Frankford Christian Church.

Colbert and other church members have undertaken a study of the stained glass windows, hoping to learn who created the original windows.

One clue, Colbert said, is the fact that the Columbian Exposition was under way in Chicago from May to October 1893, and that Louis Comfort Tiffany exhibited a chapel interior with stained glass windows at the exposition.

While the windows are confirmed not be Tiffany windows, they may have served as inspiration. The Frankford newspaper of that era posted notices of those who traveled to Chicago to visit the fair, and how long they stayed. “It was big news at that time,” Colbert said.

From these newspaper clippings, it is known that the Rev. W.W. Boatman attended the fair. “He was the preacher who was kind of one of catalysts for the need to build this new building,” Colbert said. Also attending were key members of the church, including the Cash family.

The church is now preparing for its 130th anniversary of the building’s dedication, which will take place Feb. 18, 2024.

O.A. Bartholomew was the architect for the Frankford, Mo., Christian Church, which was completed in 1894. Photo from the St. Louis Globe Democrat, Sept. 13, 1888.

Mary Lou Montgomery retired as editor of the Hannibal Courier-Post on the last day of December 2014, after working at the newspaper for 39 years. She can be reached at


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