Campbell County Baptist Association,
Written by Rev. N. Pettit, 1855,
2nd Twelve Mile Baptist Church,
Pendleton County, Kentucky
Dear Brethren: --
We have chosen as the subject of the present Circular Letter, "The History of the Campbell County Association," being convinced that this [is] a subject that would interest all our brethren and believing also that some facts ought to be collected for the benefit of the denomination in future ages. We shall endeavor to give a brief outline of the origin and progress of this Association, with a brief sketch of the churches of which it was composed, and constituted, and also some account of a few of the early ministers who have gone to their reward.
The Campbell County Association was constituted at Brush Creek, in Campbell County, Kentucky, about three miles south of Alexandria, on the 21st., of September, 1827. There were delegates present from the following eight churches: From Licking, there were present Robert Ware, Israel Ware, Andrew Smolley, John Rees, Ferguison German, and James Fowler. From Four-mile, David Berdick, J. Walker, Josiah Herbert, jun., and Joseph Clark. From Bank-lick, Elam Grizzle, George Vice, John R. Stephens, Leonard D'Coursey, and Lewis Kleete. From Wilmington, William Griffin, Samuel Bryan, and Joel Berry. From Brush Creek, William Gosney, William Lipscomb, R. S. Dicken, and John H. Caldwell. From Twelve-mile, John Stephens, William J. Morin, William Thomson, Samuel Belveal, Thomas Beagle, and Con Beagle. From Alexandria, Joseph Dicken, George Graden, H. E. Spillman, James Spillman, and William D'Coursey. From Flower Creek, John Taylor, Drummond Wheeler and John Wheeler.
The Introductory Sermon was preached by Rev. William Montague, of North Bend Association, from 1st. Peter, ii chapter, v. verse, "Ye are also as lively stones," &c.
The Association numbered at its constitution, three hundred and forty seven members. The following items constituted its principal business at its first meeting. Elder John Stephens was chosen Moderator and Lewis Kleete Clerk. Adopted the following six articles of faith: --
1st. That there is but one only living and true God, and that in this adorable God-Head there are three personal relations, as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and these three are one.
2nd. That the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, are the word of God, and the only infallible rule of faith and practice.
3rd. That by nature we are depraved, helpless, and fallen creatures.
4th. That Salvation, Regeneration, Sanctification, and Redemption are by the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and that the saints will finally persevere through grace to glory.
5th. That Baptism by immersion is a command of God, and should be observed by all true believers.
6th. And that the salvation of the righteous and punishment of the wicked will be eternal.
It was agreed to correspond with the following Associations, to wit: -- Union, Bracken, and Eagle Creek (in Ohio,). William D'Coursey, was appointed to correspond with the American Baptist Tact Society, in Philadelphia.
The Second Annual Meeting of this Association was held with the church at Licking, on the second Friday in September, . This was the fixed time upon holding the meetings of the Association, and were so held for a period of seventeen years. Eld. John Stephens preached the Introductory Discourse. At this meeting a correspondence was opened with the Concord Association. The churches were requested by the Association to form tract societies, in as many neighborhoods as possible, in order to aid in furnishing the members of the churches and the people generally with religious reading.
The third Annual Meeting was held at Twelve-mile. The sermon was preached by Elder Elam Grizzle. This year general prosperity seems to have prevailed through out the entire bounds of the Association. The letters from the churches show an increase of about eighty members, being a greater increase thou in any subsequent year, until the missionary spirit began to be awakened. At this meeting agents were appointed in all the churches to receive and distribute the tracts sent by the society. But the churches and agents did not enter into the spirit of the work, from the fact that they did not appreciate the value of these publications. This Tract Society, which was founded by our aged and venerable Brother J. L. Dagg, D. D., contributed much by its valuable publications, to the advancement of Ministerial Education of that day; and furnished almost the only reading matter, of a religious nature, with which professors of religion were furnished among us. For religions news papers were not as common visitors in the Log-cabins of that day, as Pianos are in the parlors of the present day. At this Meeting the Association also advised the churches, and the citizens generally, to form Bible Societies, to aid in supplying with Bibles the great number of families that were then destitute. During the three first years of its history we find there was more enterprise than ever has been since.
The Fourth Anniversary of this Association was held at Wilmington, in Campbell County. Elder William Gosney preached the Annual Sermon. This year there was a decrease of 38 members.
The Association held its Fifth Anniversary with the church at Alexandria. Elder Robert Kirtl[e]y preached the Anniversary Discourse. This year there was an increase of eight members. When the Association was constituted it was called the Campbell Association. At this meeting the word County was annexed.
The Sixth Meeting of this body was held with the church Bank Lick, in Campbell County. Elder Stephens preached the Annual Discourse. This year there was a decrease of ten in number. A correspondence was opened with the Ten Mile Association. The Association held its Seventh Meeting with the church at Four Mile. Elder Jacob Martyn preached the Introductory Sermon. This year the reports of the churches show a decrease of 23 from the last year.
The Eighth Meeting was held at Brush Creek. Elder James Vickers preached the sermon at the opening. The reports or this year show an increase of twenty nine members. The Flag Spring church was received into the Association.
The Association held its Ninth Meeting with the church at Flag Spring. This year's statistics show a decrease of seventeen. In the minutes of this meeting we find a resolution recommending “each church at its next meeting to appoint delegates to meet at Brush Creek, on the third Friday in October, to take into consideration the propriety of employing one or more of our ministers to devote their time in preaching the Gospel in the bounds of the Association, for which they shall be paid.” The history of this movement is as follows[:] The Flag Spring church at her meeting in July, previous to the sitting of the Association, took up a collection to aid in paying some Baptist minister to preach in the bounds of the Association during the next Associational year. At her August meeting, she instructed her Delegates to lay the subject before the Association. They did so, and she, in her wisdom, passed the above resolution. The Delegates were appointed and met, but there were some objections made because it proposed to pay the laborer his hire. Some of the ministers proposed to set an apostle example, (as they said,) and go a warfare at their own charges. Perhaps one or two started, but soon became weary, and I suppose, concluded as Paul did, "that no man goeth at his own charges." Thus ended this good enterprise.
The Tenth Meeting of this body was held at Licking. Elder Jacob Martyn preached the Introductory Sermon. This year there was a decrease of eight members. At this meeting William J. Morin was elected Clerk, Lewis Klette having served since the constitution, a period of nine years. Elder Morin has been the Clerk ever since that time, a period of eighteen years.
The Eleventh Annual Meeting was held with the church at Wilmington. Elder William Gosney preached the Annual Sermon. This year shows a decrease of sixteen members, making the whole number of members three hundred and sixty six, being only nineteen more than were in the Constitution.
The Twelfth Meeting was held at Twelve Mile. The Sermon was preached by Elder James Spillman. This year the number was increased by thirteen. This meeting was protracted by Mason Owens eight days, during which thirty one were added to the church. Perhaps this was among the fist protracted meetings ever held in the Campbell County Association. Protracted meeting now began to be held in many places and were greatly blessed in building up the church. Prayer meetings became common and the Missionary spirit began to be diffused; all of which had a tendency to revolutionize the views and feelings of the Association, and here we date a new era in the history of the Campbell County Association. Her numbers began to increase, new churches began to knock for admittance, and every thing seemed to indicate the approach of a more glorious day.
The Thirteenth Meeting was held with the church at Bank Lick. Elder John Stephens preached the Introductory Sermon. This year there was an increase of forty three. At this meeting there was an inquiry came up to know if the Association was missionary in spirit in its present form. This enquiry was answered, by saying to the church that made the enquiry, that the Association is not connected with any Missionary Board, neither Home nor Foreign, but what we are in spirit, is between us and our Master. The Missionary question caused considerable disturbance. Several good meaning brethren left and joined the old Antinomian churches, and the Brush Creek finally divided and become two churches. The Missionary branch prospered, but the other dwindled and died.
The Fourteenth Anniversary was held with the church at Alexandria. Elder James Vickers preached the Annual Sermon from the following appropriate text: — "The Lord has done great things for us whereof we are glad."
This year there was an increase of three hundred and thirty-five in number, and two new churches, viz. New-Port and Covington. This was a glorious meeting, indeed — many hearts were made glad when it was heard that the Lord had abundantly refreshed so many of the churches.
The Fifteenth Annual meeting was held at Four Mile. Elder William J. Morin preached the Annual Sermon. This year the 2nd Covington church united with the 1st, and hence there was no letter, as the first belonged to the North Bend Association. The 2nd Twelve Mile church was received at this meeting with thirty-two members.
The Sixteenth Annual Meeting was held with the church at Brush Creek. The Annual Sermon was preached by Elder James Spillman.
The Seventeenth Annual Meeting was held at Flag Spring. Rev. Isaac McCoy, Agent of the Indian Mission, Association, preached the Introductory Sermon.
The Association held its Eighteenth Annual Meeting with the church at Licking. The Introductory Sermon was preached by James Spillman. At this Meeting there was a written communication received from a lay member, suggesting the propriety of our employing some one or more of the ministering brethren to devote his or their time to preaching the gospel among the churches and in destitute places.
The Association reccommended [sic] each church to send a Delegate to Alexandria, on the Fourth Saturday in October, 1845, to act as might be thought best. The Delegates met and employed Elder James Vickers
[A line at the top of the page is not clear.]
because he happened to preach a few more sermons in one church than in another, or forsooth did not go out into destitute places as much as some thought he should have done, therefore many concluded, as is often the case among Baptists, that they would have nothing more to do with it, since the plan was not carried out in every particular, according to their peculiar notions. This second Home Mission enterprise, thus was defeated. This closes a history of the Association up to 1845. We will now submit a brief sketch of the eight churches, of which the Association was originally composed.
The Baptist church, at Licking, was constituted in 1795, with eight members. This was the first Baptist church constituted in Campbell County. We have no further information respecting the early history of this church.
The Baptist church, at Four Mile, was constituted in 1799, with eight members. We have had no means of obtaining facts in regard to the early history of this church. We have learned, however, that for many years it was a prosperous church; but, for some years past, has been on the decline, the old members having either died or moved off. The neighborhood has lately been settled by a foreign population; the church is in a lingering condition and will no doubt become extinct.
The Baptist church, at Bank Lick, was constituted on the 23rd. of May, 1801, by Brethern [sic] Monroe from forks of Licking, and Riggs, from Four Mile, with seven members. This church increased gradually until it became a strong and effiecient [sic] church. In 1851, at her request, she was dismissed from the Campbell County Association, and afterwards joined the North Bend.
The Brush Creek Church, was constituted in l809, with eight members. When the church was constituted she called Elder John Stephens, as her pastor, he served the church for a number of years, then William Gosney took charge of it, and continued to labor as pastor until the division took place respecting doctrine, in 1839. At this time William Gosney, with a number of others; not willing to subscribe to the doctrines held by the Association, took the old church book, and claimed to be the primitive church. Those that remained, also claimed to be the original church, and was recognized as such by a council from several churches of the Association. This branch was built up by the labors of various good ministers, and is now in a healthy condition under the labors of Rev. Jesse Beagle.
The Wilmington Church was constituted in June, 1804, from Bank Lick church, with 8 members. At the constitution, Eld. Thos. Griffin became the pastor and remained as such until his death. His labors were blessed greatly in building up the church. This good and faithful Minister of the Gospel was ordained in the Bank Lick church in 1802, by Elders William Cave, of Bullitsburgh, and A. Monroe, from forks of Licking. His career, though short, was fraught with usefulness. After his death the church was built up by the labors of various ministers, until she has become a strong and influential church.
The Baptist church, at Twelve Mile, was constituted on the 18th. of September, 1818, with twenty-five members in the house of Brother Samuel Belveal. Immediately after the constitution, Elder John Stephens was chosen pastor, and continued to labor faithfully until 1846, when at his request he, was released, and Elder James Spillman was called, who labored as pastor until June, 1852, when Elder Jesse Beagle, who had been ordained in May previous, was called, who is now the pastor. Elder William J. Morin was licensed to preach in this church in 1821.
The Baptist church, at Alexandria, was constituted on the 17th. of April 1820, with about eighteen members. After the constitution, Elder Absalom Graves was chosen pastor, he faithfully preached the Gospel to them until Elder George Graden was ordained, which took place in 1823, he then took charge of the church and labored faithfully until 1335, when James Spillman was ordained, who in connection with Elder Graden took charge of the church and continued until 1842, when Elder Graden, at his request was released, Elder Spillman continued, and is now the pastor.
We have not been able to got a history of the Flower Creek church. The only information that we can get is, that about the year 1820, or 25, there was a small Baptist church constituted at Flower Creek, numbering, when the Association was constituted, fifteen members. Among this number was old Brother John Taylor, one of the old pioneers of the Licking Valley. He was ordained [a] minister of the gospel, and was pastor of the church until his death, which occurred in February, 1829. At Brother Taylor's death the church was left without a pastor; it was, however, partially supplied with preaching by ministering brethern [sic] of the Association until 1831, when it dissolved by mutual consent. We will now close our present circular with a short account of the lives and labors of Elders Riggs and Stephens.
Rev. BETHUEL RIGGS was the first Baptist Minister that was ordained in the bounds of Campbell, Kenton, and Pendleton Counties. Of his early history, we have had no means of getting any information.
He was ordained in the Four Mile church, about the year 1800. For several years he preached in various places, in the bounds of the Campbell County Association. And his preaching was greatly blessed, for he preached as if he believed what he said. He was truly a man of God; he lived in close communion with him; he lived by faith and not by sight. His manner of address was easy and graceful, accompanied with peculiar earnestness. His style, though not strictly polished, was solemn and impressive. His voice was melodious, and his appeals to the ungodly were strong and pathetic. His most favorite themes were Experimental and Practical Religion; on these he delighted to dwell. As a minister, he was well suited to the age in which he lived. Some years after he was ordained, he moved to Missouri, and labored until about 1832, when he returned to Campbell County, and joined the church at Alexandria, where he died soon after. Elder Riggs lived and died like a [C]hristian, and is now enjoying the [C]hristan's Heaven with many other soldiers of the cross, who have gone from the Campbell County Association.
Rev. JOHN STEPHENS was the second Baptist Minister ordained in Campbell County. We only have to regret that we have not more space to give a fuller account of the life and labors of this noted Baptist Minister of Campbell County.
He was born in New York, near Albany, in the year 1774, and emigrated to Campbell County, Kentucky, in 1793, where he lived and died. In 1796 he was married to Elleanor Rardin, by the Rev. John Smith of Columbus, Ohio. When he was about 26 years of age, he made a profession of religion, and joined the church at Four Mile. -- He began to exhort immediately, and soon after, was ordained to the [C]hristian ministry in the same church. His early education was very limited; so much so that when he began to preach, he could not read a chapter in the New Testament intelligibly; but by unwearied perseverance, he acquired an extensive knowledge of the Bible, as much, at [blurred] as can be with the facilities that he had. He studied no other book, save the Bible; it was his companion by day, and his comfort at night; and often, when others were slumbering, he was prayerfully pouring over the pages of Sacred History. The Bible was his comfort in distress, and his light when in darkness.
As a minister, his manner of address was by no means attractive, but rather repulsive to strangers. His enunciation was defective in consequence of an impediment in his speech. His style was rather barren, owing to a want of mental training, but with all these imperfections he was an able minister of the New Testament. His undoubted piety, and peculiar earnestness, gave great power to his exhortations and sermons, and, in fact, no man in the Campbell County Association, ever labored in the ministry more successfully. His sermons were generally more practical and hortatory than doctrinal. His talent was best suited to encourage [C]hristians; or, using his own familiar language, "to feed the flock." Elder Stephens was Moderator of the Campbell County Association from the time it was constituted, until he became by age disqualified for the discharge of the duties. He filled this honorable and responsible position with credit to himself and with satisfaction to all.
His dignity of character and unflinching integrity, gave him great influence in all deliberative assemblies; and, indeed, he was regarded as the leader of [C]hristian hosts. He was pastor of the First Twelve Mile church for a period of about twenty-eight years, and altho' he had preached for the church so long he was as highly esteemed, when he resigned his charge, as at any other period of his life. He was one of those that lived and lasted. What he was one day you would find him the next. He was, as he often exhorted his brethern [sic] to be "an every day [C]hristian." He was also pastor of the Brush Creek church for a number of years, as well as many others. He traveled and preached a great deal in the bounds of this Association, but not as ministers of the present day travel.
Very often when he went to fill an appointment, he would take his cane in his hand, throw his coat across his arm, and walk five, ten, or fifteen miles on Saturday morning, and perhaps, having followed the plow all the week, preach on Saturday at eleven o’clock and at f[ive?] and the same on the Sabbath, and then walk home. I sometimes fancy I see the old [C]hristian here as he traces his slow and weary steps towards his lonely dwelling. Now he has traveled only a few miles when night throws her gloomy mantle around him, and the wolvs [sic] begin to howl in wild confusion through the forest. See him as he pursues his narrow path through the waste, howling wilderness, with no light to guide his footsteps, only as now and then some twinkling star might chance to drop a gentle ray through the waving branches of the trees, into his path. He arrives at home, takes his rest, and Monday morning again addresses himself to his daily labor.
In this way the greater part of his life was spent; he not only frequently walked to the churches in the bounds of his own Association, but even walked to corresponding Associations; and once we are informed he and some of the Brethern [sic] went to the North Bend Association, in a canoe. We have noticed these incidents to give some idea of the difficulties under which the pioneers labored in building up the Baptist cause, in this part of the state. The population was sparse, the points of preaching at a great distance from each other, and his fellows laborers were few, yet he labored faithfully, until he had the satisfaction of seeing prosperous churches growing up all around him, and the Association, of which he was a member, increased from three hundred to one thousand.
When he was ordained, there were two small churches in Campbell County, numbering thirty or forty members; when he died, there were fifteen churches, numbering about one thousand. But he has gone to his resting place, loved and venerated by all who knew him. The Lord took him up higher where he might rest from his labors. After fifty years devoted to the [C]hristian ministry he departed on the __ day of _____, 1849, leaving many [C]hristian friends to lament the loss of so good a man.
[From the Campbell County Baptist Association Minutes, 1855, pp. 2-8. All insertions in the document are in [ ]. - jrd]
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