Mt. Gilead Church was organized in 1830 as a Primitive Baptist Church, with services held in the homes of its members. In 1841 they became Mt. Gilead Christian Church erecting their first building in 1844; however, it burned in 1862. The church rebuilt in 1873 making the brick on site and the pews from trees on the property. Adjacent to the church is the cemetery, which was also founded in 1830 with stones dating back to the 1840's.
The pulpit was fashioned by John Ingram from an old cherry wood rope bed donated by Matt Wilkerson, who at one time, lived across the road. Services were held regularly until 1930 when the church closed. Four years later it opened as a Community Church with Reverend Forrest Taylor as pastor, but only lasted until 1937. Services were renewed in 1951 and continued until the early 1980's.
Adjacent to the church is the cemetery, which was also founded in 1830 with stones dating back to the 1840's. Matt Smith maintained the church and cemetery for nearly 50 years before his death in 1969. A cousin of Abraham Lincoln is buried here, as well as founding church members and confederate soldiers.
The Clay County Department of Historic Sites acquired the Mt. Gilead property in 1984. The two-acre property includes the historic church, school, and cemetery. In 1998, extensive renovations to both the church and school included new HVAC systems, complete refurbishing of the church interior, electrical updates, flagstone walkways, landscaping, cemetery restoration, restroom facilities, and the installation of a portion of the original fence at the cemetery entrance.