The territory of Wyaconda Association was originally a part of Bethel Association whose bounds once extended to the northern limits of the State.  On October 25th, 1844, the separation took place when a meeting was held at Wyaconda Church, in Lewis county,where the new body was organized and named in honor of the church where the meeting for that purpose was held. Eight churches consisting of 496 members composed the new Association. Elder James M. Lillard, pastor of Wyaconda at the time was, made Moderator.

By reason of an earnest and aggressive policy from the very first, the Association has steadily grown until now there are thirty churches wit ah [with a] membership of 3,200, an able and efficient ministry, well organized Sunday School work, a splendidly equipped college, a District Woman’s Missionary Society and several well conducted Baptist Young People Unions in the Association. Salvation of souls at home, Christian education,and the missionary work of the denominations are the paramount issues.

The annual meeting of 1900 known as the centennial year, was held with the church where the Association was organized fifty-six years ago. A special program celebrating the century’s progress among Baptists was carried out. It was most fitting that this meeting should be with the oldest church in the Association.

Wyaconda church was organized August 30, 1829, by elder Jeremiah Taylor who became the first pastor. In 1833, Elder James M. Lillard was elected pastor and continued so for many years. He was pre-eminently the pioneer preacher of northeast Missouri. When he came to Lewis county in 1832 there was no Baptist preaching north or west of him so that his field of labor was broad. After traveling many weary miles, traversing new settlements, crossing swollen streams, facing scorching summer suns, or winter’s snowy blasts to warn sinners and to feed the “scattered sheep,” and after baptizing over 3,000 people and helping to ordain 26 ministers, organizing many churches, he entered interest in October 1896 at Canton, MO. His portrait adorns the pages of these Minutes elsewhere.  The Association meeting this year on the scene of so many years of his labor served to revive his memory in the minds of the people.

And now,stimulated by the record of her past history, and promise for the future, Wyaconda Association zealously sets her fact toward the dawning century.Printed in the 1905 Wyaconda Assoc. Annual Meeting Minutes:

The Wyaconda Association, in 1856, voted to establish within its bounds a male and Female Seminary of the highest order.  At the time it was decided to locate the school at the point where the greatest sum of money could be raised for building and sustaining the institution. The work was entrusted to the following committee:Geo. K. Biggs, Dr. J. A. Hay, Ezra Kerfoot, Thomas Richardson and Ralph Smith.

Rev. James M. Lillard was appointed traveling agent to raise $5,000 for the purpose of beginning the building.  After a thorough canvass it was found that LaGrange had contributed the largest amount of money and consequently was entitled to the location of the school.

In April, 1857,the trustees appointed Dr. J. A. Hay and Thomas Richardson to contract for the building and superintend the erection of the same.   The work was completed, and on the 15th of September, 1858, the school was opened with the following faculty:   Prof. W. M. Ellis, principal; Prof. T.F. Peak, Miss Mary Kyle, and Miss Angie Prentiss, Assistants.

March 12, 1859, a charter was granted for the institution, which was called “LaGrange Male and Female College.”   The school was well patronized and in a flourishing condition, when its doors were closed on account of the civil war. At the close of the war people of all parties rallied to the support of the college, and Dr. J. F. Cook, of Kentucky, was called to the presidency.

With invincible courage and untiring energy, President Cook ably supported by the people of Wyaconda Association, struggled through financial depression and almost insurmountable difficulties, and succeeded in making LaGrange College [sic] the pride of the denomination and a monument to the noble men and women through whose efforts it was established.

Source of Minutes: Western Historical Manuscript Collection-Columbia

Transcribed by Printed in the 1900 Wyaconda Baptist Assoc. Annual Meeting Minutes