Cowpers Run, Lick Creek, Boones Creek, Marble Creek and Hanging Fork Churches, South Kentucky Association
The year 1787 commenced with only three churches more in the State — or Territory, rather — than existed at the beginning of the preceding year, for, while four more churches had been constituted, one had been dissolved. Gilbert’s Creek, the oldest church in Elkhorn Association, and the oldest in Kentucky, except Cedar Creek and Severns Valley, was reported to the Association in August, 1786, "dissolved." At the beginning of 1787 there were, therefore, in Kentucky thirteen Regular Baptist churches and eight of Separate Baptists. There were at the same period at least seventeen preachers of the Regulars and eight of the Separates. There were two Regular Associations. During this year there were one Separate and three Regular churches added to the list. Marble Creek church was constituted, but not recognized this year.
COWPERS RUN (or, as it is sometimes written, Cooper's Run) church, was located in Bourbon county, not far from the present site of Paris, and was most probably gathered by Augustine Eastin and James Garrard. It was constituted of less than twenty members, in 1787, and joined Elkhorn Association in August of the same year. Notwithstanding this was a frontier settlement, and the Indians were so troublesome that this little church lost five of its members1 within its first year by their cruelty, it enjoyed a regular course of prosperity from its beginning, till 1795, when it reached a membership of 119. After this it gradually declined, till 1803, when it was dropped from the Association, on account of its having become heretical in doctrine. After this it appears no more on the list of
Kentucky Baptist churches, though it continued to exist as an independent body a number of years longer.
AUGUSTINE EASTIN appears to have been the first and only pastor of Cowpers Run church. He was a brilliant man, of good social standing and irreproachable morals, but was unstable in his opinions. For a time he kept within such bounds, of recognized orthodoxy as to be tolerated by the churches, and was useful in the ministry; but his propensity to ape men of distinction led him to such extremes in error that he was finally cut off from the Baptist ministry.
Augustine Eastin was among the early converts to Christianity in Goochland county, Virginia, under the ministry of Samuel Harriss and others. He becamea member of Dover church, in that county, and soon afterward entered the ministry. His zeal in his holy calling procured him a term in Chesterfield jail. He was, however, in good company, for William Webber, Joseph Anthony, John Weatherford. John Tanner, Jeremiah Walker and David Tinsley, a noble, godly band of Christian ministers, were incarcerated in the same prison for preaching the gospel.
Mr. Eastin emigrated to Kentucky in 1784, and remained for a time in Fayette county, but afterwards settled in Bourbon. He and James Garrard, then a preacher, and afterwards Governor of Kentucky, gathered Cowpers Run church, in 1787. To this church Mr. Eastin preached with good success until he embraced Arianism, when he and the church of which he was pastor were cut off from the fellowship of the Baptist churches. Mr. Semple speaks of him after this manner "Augustine Eastin, though a man of some talents, was never any credit to the cause of truth. He appears to have been always carried away with the opinions of others whom he wished to imitate. Sometimes he was a professed and positive Calvinist. Then shifting about, he is a warm Arminian. Then to the right about again, he is reconvinced that Calvinism is the only true way. Having moved to Kentucky, he finds some professors of high standing in civil life who lean to the Arian scheme. Mr. Eastin soon becomes their champion, and even writes a pamphlet in defense of Arianism. Mr. Eastin's moral character has not been impeached. On this head both he and his coadjutors are men of high respectability."
JAMES GARRARD was a member and preacher, in Cowpers Run church from its constitution. The purity of his character, his eminent ability, and his great usefulness, both to church and state, entitle him to a conspicuous place in the history of the early Baptists in Virginia and Kentucky. The Garrards were descended from an old Baptist family of Pennsylvania, from whence they emigrated to Virginia, at an early period. John Garrard was one of the first Regular Baptists that preached the gospel in the Old Dominion, and was a principal laborer in raising up the first churches of which Ketocton Association was formed.
James Garrard was born in Stafford county, Virginia, January 14, 1749. Of his youth we have no account. He was an officer in the Revolutionary War. While in the army, he was called to represent his county in the Virginia Legislature. In this body, he was very active in procuring the passage of the famous bill, securing Religious liberty to the people of his state. He was a member of Harford church of Regular Baptists, in his native county, but it is not known at what period he professed conversion. He was an early settler in the wilds ofKentucky, where he endured the privations, and faced the dangers common to the pioneers. He entered the ministry after he came to Kentucky, and was zealous in aiding his fellow ministers in building up the cause of Christ. But it may be doubted that he was "called of God" to the gospel ministry. He had not the gift of a ready speech, and was every way better qualified to make laws, than to preach grace. From his early acquaintance with the settlers, to his old age, he was said to be the most popular man in Kentucky. He was sent from Kentucky to the Virginia Legislature, was a member of most of the many Conventions that Kentucky held, in arranging for a separate government, aided in forming the first constitution of the commonwealth, and was elected to fill the office of Governor two successive terms. This latter office was unfortunate for his Religious Character.
He appointed to the office of Secretary of State, during both his gubernatorial terms, Harry Toulmin, a polished and scholarly Englishman, who was a Unitarian preacher. Before the close of the second term, Mr Toulmin had converted the Governor to his religious sentiments. Mr. Eastin, the pastor of
Cowpers Run church, was soon converted to the same theory and at once began to advocate it from the pulpit, and defend it with his pen. An earnest effort was made by Elkhorn Associciation to reclaim their erring brethren, but all in vain. The church was dropped from this Association, in 1803, and this closed the ministry of Mr. Garrard, among the Baptists. It should be remembered, however, that except this error in his doctrinal views, the eminent purity of his character was untarnished, to the last. His popularity among the citizens of the state remained till death. One of the counties of the state was named, in his honor, and the legislature ordered a monument to be erected to his memory, and on it engraved his heroic deeds, in defense of his country, the eminent services he rendered as a statesman, and the spotless purity of his life, as a citizen and a christian. He died at his residence in Bourbon county, January 19, 1822, aged 73 years and 5 days.
Mr. Semple makes the following observations concerning Mr. Garrard's career: "He continued to preach until he was made Governor. For the honors of men, he resigned the office of God. He relinquished the clerical robe, for the more splendid mantle of human power. The prophet says to Asa — 'If ye forsake God he will forsake you.' It is not strange, that Colonel Garrard, after such a course, should fall into many foolish anal hurtful snares." Let it be tried a thousand times, and in nine hundred and ninety-nine cases, it will be found, that preachers who aim at worldly honors, will be completely ruined, or greatly depreciated as preachers." "It is due to Governor Garrard to say, that his conduct has been orderly, and indeed gentlemanly; and that he has honored every character which he has ever assumed, except the one which, of all others, he ought to have valued."
LICK CREEK church was a small body, located somewhere in Nelson county. It was probably gathered by James Rogers, a member of Cedar Creek church, and was constituted, in 1787. Soon after its constitution, it was much agitated on the subject of slavery. It appears to have first united with the Separate Baptists, but in 1792, joined Salem Association, of which it remained a member till 1812. After this, its name disappears, proving that it either dissolved, or changed its name.
However, it acted its part among the Kentucky churches, for a period of at least twenty-five years.
JAMES ROGERS, who was early a preacher in this church, was one of the first settlers of what is now Nelson county. He and several others, among whore were two or three of his brothers, built Rogers' fort, about four miles west of the present site of Bardstown in 1780. He was quite a prominent citizen of Nelson county, and served it in two of the Danville conventions, which met to devise means for forming a government for Kentucky.
James Rogers was born, either in Ireland, or of Irish parents, in Maryland, about the year 1742. He was a Baptist preacher before he came to Kentucky, and was in the constitution of Cedar Creek church, July 4, 1781. When Lick Creek church was formed, he became a member of that fraternity. Whether he was ever pastor of that, or any other church, is not known. He was not a fluent speaker, but possessed a good intellect and a fair education, and was useful to the churches of his generation, in defending their doctrine, both from the pulpit, and with his pen. In a day when small pamphlets were much more rare than large volumes are now, he published a small work in defense of Restricted Communion. In his preface to this treatise, he says of the Baptists: "Their aim is to keep virtue, and conform to the will of the Most High as revealed in the law and testimony without adding to, or diminishing from." In his premise, he assumes the order of christian exercises to be "Repentance, Faith, Baptism and partaking of the Lord's Supper." His argument from this promise is clear, forcible, and was well adapted to the masses, at the time he wrote. He published several other pamphlets on controverted subjects, one of which was on the operation of the Holy Spirit.
He lived near Rogers' Fort till his old age, when he married for his second wife a Mrs. Flourney, and moved to what is now Boyle county. Here he died peacefully, at home, in the eighty-fifth year of his age.
Mr. Rogers raised five sons and two daughters. Of the former, Evan Rogers was many years moderator of South District Association, and William Rogers served four successive terms in the Kentucky Legislature. That eminently useful
minister of Christ, Jacob Rogers, was a nephew of James Rogers.
BOONE'S CREEK CHURCH, of Separate Baptists, was formed in 1787, in Fayette county, doubtless by a division of the Regular Baptist Church of the same name. It contained, in 1790, thirty-six members, and was a member of South Kentucky Association. The zealous and eccentric Joseph Craig was its preacher at that time. He however removed his membership to Hickman's Creek church, next year. We have no definite account of this second Boones Creek church beyond the facts already given, but some circumstances surrounding it, give pretty good assurance that it grew out of a bitter spirit, gen dered by the unsuccessful attempt, in 1785, to unite the Regulars and Separates, and the intolerance of some of the old ministers, who were exceedingly tenacious for a limited atonement and a full recognition of God's eternal decrees, on the part of the Regulars, and an overheated zeal for feet-washing and the laying on of hands after baptism, on the part of the Separates. The little church thus born of contention, was short lived and probably accomplished little good.
A common and very serious evil is here illustrated. At an early period, Elkhorn Association saw the impropriety of constituting little feeble churches, so close together as to preclude the possibility of their ever becoming strong enough to support a pastor, or command respect. This evil practice, which prevailed, even at that early period, was discussed and condemned. But no remedy was found. The evil still exists. In many parts of the country, there are three or four times as many churches as ought to exist. And the consequence is, that, instead of having preaching every Sabbath, they were unable to sustain preaching once a month. This results in the dissolution of nearly or quite half the churches that are constituted, after a feeble, sickly existence of only a few years.
MARBLE CREEK CHURCH, now called East Hickman, is located in the southern border of Fayette county. It also was in part at least, the offspring of Boones Creek church. It was gathered principally by the labors of William Hickman, and was constituted June 15, 1787, by George Stokes Smith and Ambrose Dudley. The church consisted of nineteen members,
among whom were William School, Robert Fryar, John Hunt, Martin Stafford, Samuel Bryant and Flanders Calloway. 2
The manner in which Marble Creek church originated illustrates some of the difficulties, arising out of the doctrinal differences, with which our pioneer fathers had to contend. Boones Creek church, at its constitution, contained elements of discord, that were not long in developing themselves. Three partieswere soon formed, and in a short time became three churches. The party which retained the old name and constitution, was headed by John Tanner, who though at first a Separate Baptist, had become a "United Baptist," in North Carolina, and after he came to Kentucky, allied himself with the Regulars. From that he became a Hyper-Calvinist, searching deeply into eternal decrees, and contending uncompromisingly for the eternal justification of the elect. Joseph Craig lead the zealous Separates, which formed Boones Creek church of Separate Baptists. About this time the revival that began on Clear Creek, the year before, reached the Boones Creek settlement. Tanner was pastor of the church, and opposed the revival, calling it the work of the devil. William Hickman was sent for, and when he came, zealously encouraged the revival. This divided the church into two parties. Mr. Hickman moved the meetings to an adjoining neighborhood on Marble creek, having previously baptized some twenty persons. Here he continued to preach till Marble Creek church was constituted, as related above. Boones Creek church which had been constituted only two years before, had now become three churches. Two of them, however, professed to be of the came faith and order, both adopting the Philadelphia Confession of Faith. Marble Creek petitioned for membership in Elkhorn Association; but some trifling objections being made by Boones Creek, it was rejected, or, rather, final action on the application was deferred till next year, when the church was received. John Price was called to its pastoral care, and it enjoyed a moderate prosperity under his ministry. During the Great Revival, it received 133 members by experience and baptism,
in one year and reached an aggregate membership of 188. After this it became involved in the unfortunate contention between Town Fork and Bryants churches. Its membership became so much diminished that it was nigh to dissolution. In the division of Elkhorn Association Marble Creek church became a member of Licking Association. But afterwards, under the pastoral care of Ryland T. Dillard, it returned to Elkhorn. Under Mr. Dillard's care, it grew to be one of the largest and most reputable churches of that honored old Fraternity, and is still a large and prosperous body.
JOHN PRICE, the first pastor of Marble Creek church was raised up to the ministry in Shenandoah county, Virginia. He was a minister for a short period, in old South River church, and was there associated with William Marshall, Joseph Redding, Lewis Corban and John Taylor, all of whom came to Kentucky. Mr. Price raised up Water Lick church, in Ketocton Association, to which he ministered for a time. "He acted for many years as clerk of Ketocton Association, and was, while in Virginia, considered a man of weight in religious concerns. In Kentucky likewise he has been distinguished as a man of zeal and parts."3 For a number of years, he was active and useful in building up the young churches and carrying the gospel into new settlements. He was one of the committee that arranged the terms of General Union between the Separates and Regulars, in 1801, and was a prominent man among the ministers of Kentucky, at that time, and for a few years afterwards. But the best and wisest men have their weak points. During the unhappy contest in Elkhorn Association, which resulted in its division and the formation of Licking Association, most or all of the preachers in the Association were more or less involved in the strife. “The most active among them was, John Price, a man of an unpleasant temper, of great asperity of manners, and whose zeal on all occasions has partaken too much of the nature of party spirit." 4
From this period Mr. Price’s usefulness was greatly impaired. He was an active member of Licking Association, and exerted the measure of his strength to build it up. But there must have been something wrong in originating that
body. A few years after its constitution, it began to exhibit indications of weakness and decay. It has continued to wither until the present time, and is now a weak and inefficient body. Mr. Price lived to a good old age, and maintained to the end, an untarnished reputation for sincerity of purpose, and devotion to what he believed to be the truth.
RYLAND THOMPSON DILLARD succeeded John Price in the pastoral care of East Hickman church. He was a young preacher at that time, but was well educated, full of holy zeal, and possessed excellent gifts for the gospel ministry. He preached to this church from the time of his ordination, till the infirmities of old age compelled him to retire from the pastoral office.5
R. T. Dillard was born in Caroline county, Virginia, November 17, 1797. His father, John Dillard, was a wealthy farmer, and was of English extraction. His mother's maiden name was Alice Duvall. She was of French extraction. They were both Episcopalians. They raised eleven children — six daughters and five sons of which Ryland Thompson was the youngest. His father died when Ryland was about three years old. He was raised upon a farm, and in the church of his parents, and enjoyed the advantages of the best schools the country could afford. At the age of fourteen, he entered Rappahannock Academy, where he remained four years, and received a diploma of graduation. Just about the time he returned home from school, the British invaded Virginia. Young Dillard entered the army as a volunteer, and remained in the service till the war closed. In 1817, he visited Kentucky, and was so well pleased with the country, that he determined to make it his future home. Accordingly, he came to Winchester, the next year, and immediately commenced reading law in the office of Hubbard Taylor, Jr. After reading six months, he was admitted to the bar, by a license from judges James Clark and Eli Shortridge. After practicing a short time, he entered into a copartnership with Richard French, at Winchester. On the 23rd of February, 1820, he was married to Amelia Ann, daughter of William E. Dudley, and grand-daughter of that eminent servant of Jesus Christ, Ambrose Dudley. He settled
in Winchester, and continued the practice of law, about four years, with brilliant success. His worldly prospects were as flattering as a young man could reasonably desire. Wealth and honor were before him, and he possessed all the means of laying hold of them. But God had chosen him to occupy a higher calling, and had set before him greater honors and more durable riches.
He was at this time a member of the Episcopal church, but was so far from being a christain, that he openly avowed his contempt for the christian religion. "I prided myself," said he, "on my infidelity. I took great pleasure in trying to prove to Elder Thomas P. Dudley, (an uncle of his wife) that he was wrong in being a christian. I had studied Tom Paine's Age of Reason thoroughly, and thought myself master of the subject. But by some means I got to reading the Bible closely, and became much interested in it. This I endeavored to conceal, even from my wife. There was one text that greatly puzzled me. It was this. — 'I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion: So then it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.' My trouble became very great. About this time my wife went on a visit to her friends in Fayette county. I determined to drown my troubles in amusements during her absence. The first night, I and two other young men spent in gambling for watermelons. At daylight, I dropped down on my bed and fell asleep. When I awoke the sun was shining brightly. The thought occurred to me with great power. — 'What if this were the Judgment Day?' I became more miserable than ever. I read the Bible every opportunity, but carefully concealed this from everybody around me. One day, about this time, Captain Allen, an infidel, passing my office as I was sitting in the door, slapped me on the shoulder and said. — 'I hear that McClure (a blacksmith and a Baptist) has converted you.' I replied. — 'There is not a word of truth in it. I would to God it were so. I would give a world to have a hope in Christ.' Allen burst into tears, and said. — 'If I had known there was any truth in the report, I would not have named it to you in this familiar way, for any consideration.' The last of that week, I went to see my wife, and on Sunday, went to hear old father Ambrose
Dudley preach at Bryants. His text was — 'Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son.' I thought I could see how others could be justified, and I felt different from what I ever had felt before, but was not satisfied that I was truly converted."
Within the next month, Mr. Dillard gained such a degree of assurance as enabled him to relate his exercises to the church. The brethren, being satisfied of his conversion, gave him the hand of christian fellowship. The next day he was baptized in to the fellowship of the Particular Baptist church at Bryants, by the venerable Ambrose Dudley. This was in. September, 1823. Mr. Dillard was the last individual that this aged man of God ever baptized. Two years after this he went to give an account of his stewardship.
Almost immediately after Mr. Dillard's conversion, he felt impressed with the duty to preach the Gospel. The struggle between duty and interest was felt, but did not long continue. He began at once to take an active part in the prayer meetings; and when the impression that God had called him to preach took the form of conviction, he conferred no longer with flesh and blood, but determined immediately to abandon the practice of law, and devote his life to preaching the Gospel of the Son of God.
Early in the year of 1824, the church at Bryants licensed him to exercise his gift. The first attempt he made to preach was from the text: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." He was much discouraged at what appeared to him an, entire failure, and, before he was done speaking, resolved not to make another effort to preach. The meeting was at a private house near Winchester. When he was done speaking, an old brother sprang up and exclaimed: -- "I thank God that the good Lord has cheated the devil out of another lawyer." Mr. Dillard was soon encouraged to make another effort, and, from that, he continued to make and fill appointments till the fall of that year. At this time, the church, formerly called Marble Creek, but now known as East Hickman, had become reduced to twenty-seven members. Of these, only two were males, and they were too old and feeble to attend to business. The church met and invited Mr. Dillard to become its pastor.
Two sisters were appointed a committee to inform him of the call. He accepted, and was ordained to the full work of the ministry, by Thomas P. Dudley and William Rash, in the fall of 1824. To East Hickman church he preached about fortysix years.
On the resignation of Jeremiah Vardeman, in 1830, Mr. Dillard was called to the care of Davids Fork church, to which he ministered twenty-six years.
DAVIDS FORK CHURCH was a branch, or "arm," of Bryants, for about fifteen years. The mother church, which was constituted in 1786, occupied alarge territory, and grew so rapidly that it was deemed best to have two places, of worship. The church held its business meetings at Bryants Station, but built another house on the head waters of a small stream called Davids Fork of Elkhorn. To this point an arm of Bryants was extended the next year after that church was constituted. Ambrose Dudley preached alternately at Bryants and Davids Fork.
On the 26th of August, 1801, the Arm on Davids Fork was constituted an independent church, and, the following year, reported to Elkhorn Association a membership of 297. Mr. Dudley accepted the pastoral care of this young, but fullgrown, church, at the time of its constitution, and served in that capacity till 1806, when he resigned in order to devote more of his time to Bryants. He was succeeded by Robinson Hunt, who presided over the church till December, 1808, when he was removed by death. Jeremiah Vardeman was the next pastor. He accepted the charge in February, 1810. During the first six months of Mr. Vardeman’s partoral labors, at Davids Fork, a hundred and seventy souls were added to the church and among them, that valuable pioneer preacher of Missouri, James E. Welsh. During this general revival of 1827-8, more than two hundred souls were added to this church. Among these was the gifted evangelist, T.J. Fisher. Soon after this revival, thirty-one members were excluded from the church in consequence of their having embraced the heresy of Alexander Campbell. This occurred in 1830. In August of that year, Mr. Vardeman resigned his charge, to move to Missouri. Mr. Dillard was his immediate successor. To Davids Fork and East Hickman churches he devoted the principal
pastoral labors of his long and eminently useful ministry. Under some urgent contingencies, he took the pastoral care of several other churches, at different periods, and for short times.
In 1827, the Baptist church in Lexington was divided into two parties by an attempt, on the part of its pastor, James Fishback, to have its name changed from "the Baptist church," to "the Church of Christ." Fishback led off a faction of thirty-eight members, and became their pastor. Jeremiah Vardeman became pastor of the old church. After a few years, Mr. Dillard succeeded in uniting the parties, and preached to them till harmony was restored; when Silas M. Noel was called to take charge of the church.
Mr. Dillard was pastor, for brief periods, of Providence Ephesus, Paris and Clear Creek churches. While pastor of the latter, during a period of two years, it enjoyed an extensive revival. He related the following incident, which occurred during the revival:
"The mother of Henry Clay [the distinguished statesman,] was a member of Clear Creek church. One night during the revival, we had meeting at a private house. After preaching commenced, a very gay young lady, a niece of Mr. Clay, came in. She was elegantly dressed, and wore, as an especial attraction, anew styled hat, adorned with a very fine ostrich feather. She took a conspicuous seat on a piece of furniture in the room. At the close of the sermon there was much feeling among the people. Several came up and desired me to pray for them. Just as we were about to kneel in prayer, the gay young lady sprang from her seat, tore her fine hat from her head, dashed it on the floor, exclaiming, 'My hat and feathers came well nigh sending my soul to hell,' and rushed forward to join the penitents in prayer. As we knelt in prayer, the venerable mother of Mr. Clay, cried out, 'Brother Dillard, don’t forget Henry.'"
Mr. Dillard was afflicted from his youth by a scrofulous affection. It first attacked his lungs, in the nature of tuburculosis [sic], and threatened to carry him off. After he was relieved from this, he was attacked with fistula. This refused to yield to medical treatment. His physicians advised him to take a sea voyage, as the only hope of obtaining relief. Accordingly, in January, 1839, he sailed for Europe. During the first part of the voyage, his health, already very feeble, seemed to decline
rapidly, until he reached mid-ocean, when he despaired of living through the approaching night. He described his situation after the following manner:
"When night came on, I, and all on board, thought I would die before morning. I knew how they disposed of dead bodies at sea, by nailing them up in boxes and casting them into the deep. My feeling, at the thought of being cast into the ocean, was horrible beyond description. I thought of all the grave-yards that I could remember, and felt great longings to be buried in the humblest, among slaves, rather than be thrown into the sea. I would have gladly given all I possessed to be buried then in my own family grave-yard, near Lexington. But while I was suffering this inexpressible agony of soul, this passage of Scripture came into my mind. 'And the sea gave up the dead which were in it.' This gave me immediate comfort. I felt that I would be as safe in the sea, as on the dry land. In a few minutes I went to sleep, and in the morning awoke, feeling much better."
After traveling over England, France, Scotland and a part of Ireland, he returned home with his health restored, having been absent about six months.
In 1843, he was appointed Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Kentucky. He filled this position, with honor to himself, and usefulness to the cause of education. He lectured on education in all the counties in the state, except three or four. But what seemed to give him most satisfaction was, that he felt assured he had served the cause of Christ, during this term of office, assuccessfully as during any similar period of his life. On one occasion, he lectured on education a number of days in succession, and preached every night, at the Forks of Dix River. An extensive Revival occurred, and seventy- two souls were baptized. He labored in a similar manner at Covington, where about a hundred and fifty were baptized. He endeavored to use his social powers for the honor of Christ. The following incident will hardly fail to remind the reader of some occurrences in the life of the distinguished John Gano. "On one occasion, while riding through Casey county," said Mr. Dillard, "I was overtaken by three rough looking fellows, one of whom offered to bet five dollars that he could beat me on a quarter race. I objected, that the sum was too small, and the
road too rough. Presently we all came to the bank of Green river. Here we stopped. One of the men said: 'This is the road to run the race on.' 'Well,' said I, 'if you will agree to my proposition, I will run a race with you. These men are strangers to me. They may be honest, and they may be rascals. I do not like the judges, the track, nor the distance. But if you will run over the course of time, for a crown of Righteousness, and let Jesus Christ be the judge -- go!'"
About 1859; Mr. Dillard was attacked with a cancer on his face, which compelled him to relinquish his pastoral charges. After some months he recovered sufficiently to engage in his holy calling, and again took charge of East Hickman and two other churches. In 1868, his health became feeble, and he resigned all his pastoral charges. He, however, continued to go among the churches, and preach as often as his failing strength would permit. During this period, he often remarked that he had his trunk already packed for his last journey. When asked what he had in his trunk, he would reply: "Nothing but the grace of God." The cancerous affection in his face continued to become more and more aggravated, till it exhausted his physical powers. He frequently expressed his willingness, and even his anxiety, to depart. A few hours before his departure, he expressed his reliance on Christ. On the 26th of December, 1878, he passed quietly away to the home of the blessed.
Mr. Dillard, whose wife went home some years before him, raised five daughters and three sons, all of whom became Baptists. His oldest son, William, commenced preaching, but had to desist on account of failing health. Three of his daughters married Baptist preachers. The oldest married W.M. Pratt, the second, D.O. Yeiser, and the third, George Hunt.6
The Baptists of Kentucky have had few ministers of more value to the Denomination and the cause of Christ, than Ryland T. Dillard. He was a man of good intellectual and social culture, was dignified and gentlemanly in hisbearing, frank and open in conversation, and possessed the capacity to make the humblest feel easy in his company. His social popularity was
evinced in the fact that he married 845 couples. As a speaker, he was chaste, forcible, and eloquent. In his prime, he was one of the first orators in the Kentucky pulpit.
He was a farmer and a good business man, and accumulated a comfortable property. He used his business talent for the cause of Christ as he did any other grace which God had afforded him, and was among the foremost in all the enterprises of the Denomination. Both as a pastor and an evangelist, he was eminently successful. He labored in many great revivals, besides those in his own immediate charges. During his ministry, he baptized about 2,500 with his own hands. The two churches to which he ministered so long, and faithfully, grew to be large, strong bodies. At one time they contained nearly a thousand members, and are now among the leading churches of Elkhorn Association.
HANGING FORK OF DIX RIVER [now New Providence] church was most probably gathered by William Marshall. It was constituted of something less than twenty members, on a small stream from which it derived its name, in 1787. It was located in Lincoln County. Among its early members were William Marshall, Maurice Hansberry and William Gaines. It united with Elkhorn Association the same year in which it was constituted, and, in the following May, reported an aggregate membership of twenty. It was a prosperous little church, under the pastoral care of Mr. Marshall, till 1791, when it reached a membership of sixty-five. During that year a church of thirteen members was constituted out of its membership, in Mercer county. This new church was first called Cove Spring, but afterwards took the name of Stony Point, and has long been dissolved. Hanging Fork church remained a member of Elkhorn Association till the general union, after which it united with South Kentucky, and on the division of that body it fell in with South District Association, of which it is still a member. About the year 1832, it moved its location to a point about three miles east of Danville, in Boyle county, and took the name of New Providence. Among the preachers raised up in this church are John L. Smith, Strother Cook, James P. Kincaid and J. M. Bruce. In 1848, it reported a membership of 236. In 1877, it reported only 73.
William Marshall its first pastor, probably continued to
preach to it about ten years, when he moved to Shelby county where he raised up Fox Run church.
JOEL NOEL appears to have been the second pastor. Of this good old preacher, little is known. Some of the old people remember him as a quiet, dignified old preacher of small gifts and an excellent christian character. Among the early settlers of Lincoln county, he had been very useful in helping to build up the young churches. He died at his home, in what is now Boylecounty, in the fall of 1815 His youngest son was a Cumberland Presbyterian preacher of fair abilities.
The Separate Baptists had now gathered eleven churches, and beginning to recognize the need of some bond of union, resolved to form an Association. Accordingly, messengers from these churches met at Tates Creek meeting house in Madison county, on the first Friday in October, 1787, and proceeded to constitute a fraternity, to which they gave the name of SOUTH KENTUCKY ASSOCIATION OF SEPARATE BAPTISTS. Of the eleven churches of which the confederacy was constituted, only the following names are certainly known:
Boones Creek. JOSEPH CRAIG, Minister.
Head of Boones Creek.
Howards Creek. ROBERT ELKIN.
Forks of Dix River. JAMES SMITH.
Gilberts Creek. JOSEPH BLEDSOE.
Rush Branch. JOHN BAILEY.
Tates Creek. ANDREW TRIBBLE.
Lick Creek. JAMES ROGERS.
Pottengers Creek. BENJAMIN LYNN.
It appears most probable that the other two churches were,
Head of Salt River, and
South Fork of No=Lynn. JAMES SKAGGS.
The book of records has been preserved, and is now in the possession of Elder William Rupard of Clark county. But it was so awkwardly kept, that only fragmentary items of the proceedings of the Association can be ascertained from its pages. The record states that the Association "was constituted on the Bible." No written constitution, confession of faith, abstract of principles, or even rules of decorum were adopted, at this, or any subsequent period. The organization does not
appear to have been considered complete till the following May or it is stated in the records of the annual meeting of the body, in 1791, that, "The Association agrees to abide by the plan upon which the churches of our union were constituted [an association,] in October, 1787, and May, 1788."
The churches of this fraternity were intermingled with those of both Elkhorn and Salem Associations. Some of its preachers adopted very loose doctrinal views, and their vague teachings gave rise to frequent altercations between them and the ministers of the Regular Associations. As a consequence, a number of the churches were divided on the different subjects of controversy. Various attempts were made to unite the contending associations; but, for a period of about thirteen years, these efforts all failed, and each successivefailure made the breach wider, and the altercations more bitter. This unpleasant state of affairs continued till 1801, when the great revival of that period so softened the hearts of God's people, that they found it easy to bury all their differences, and form a union of all the Baptists in the State. A fuller account of this happy transaction will be given in its appropriate place. ____________________
1 Christian Repository, 1856, p. 393. 2 Christian Repository, 1856, p. 66. Calloway married a daughter of Daniel Boone. 3 His. Va. Bap., p. 319. 4 Benedict, Vol. II, p. 234. 5 Benedict, Vol. II, p. 234. 6 Most of the facts in the foregoing sketch were taken from Mr. Dillard's lips, by the author, at his home, July 7, 1869. ===============
[John Henderson Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists, 1885; rpt. CHR&A, 1984.]