Before we talk about the church’s history, let’s take a quick peek at the history of the Village of Riverton …
Around 1825-1826, Riverton was first known as “Judy’s Ferry,” named after John Judy, one of several men who operated a ferry across the Sangamon River. Then around 1831, (the year Abraham Lincoln first arrived in Sangamon County via the river) the name was changed again to “Jamestown” after James F. Reed, who operated the sawmill used to cut timber for the railroad and to manufacture cabinets. The name “Jamestown” was officially platted on Dec 11, 1837. Here’s an interesting fact about James Reed: he and his family became part of the ill-fated Donner Party that left Springfield in 1846, and was one of the 45 survivors to make it to California. Getting back to Riverton though–in 1862, Parley Howlett, a distiller, bought the town of Jamestown after it had fallen on hard times. The name was changed in 1864 to “Howlett” in in his honor. The town of “Howlett” flourished during this time. A coal mine, flour mill, saloons, a doctor’s office, and general store were all added to the area. However, some of Howlett’s investments didn’t pay off and the town was then sold to James Bunn (Howlett’s main creditor) in 1869. After a state ban on naming towns after individuals the name was finally changed to “Riverton” in 1873.