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A History of Kentucky Baptists
By J. H. Spencer, 1885

Chapter 13
Transactions of 1789 -- Emancipationists

THE year 1789, was a revival season in Kentucky, as it was in most of the Southern States. The Virginia churches were greatly blessed at this period, and most of the infant churches in the western settlements were much enlarged. The first baptisms reported to the Salem Association, were reported at its meeting in October of this year. The aggregate membership of all the churches in that Association, in 1788, was 188. The following year, the letters from the churches reported thirty-four baptisms, and an aggregate membership of 250. This was, however, only the beginning of the first revival in the bounds of that fraternity. The next year, 1790, the baptisms aggregated 112, of which nineteen were at Bear Grass, twentyone at Coxs Creek, and sixty-eight at Brashears Creek. The revival continued in the bounds of this association about three years, during which the aggregate membership of the churches composing it was largely more than doubled. This was indeed a glorious work of grace, and came like a copious shower on the thirsty land. The solitary place was made glad, at last, and the wilderness rejoiced, and blossomed as the rose.

In the bounds of Elkhorn Association, this revival was equally glorious. In 1789, the thirteen churches, composing that body, reported 288 baptisms, of which ninety-seven were at Bryants, thirty-seven at Boones Creek, forty-eight at Great Crossing, 128 at South Elkhorn, and 148 at Clear Creek. The revival continued here about five years, during which the aggregate membership of the churches in Elkhorn Association in creased from 559, to 1,773. The increase in South Kentucky was also large, especially at Rush Branch, Tates Creek, and Gilberts Creek. It was during this revival, according to the statement of Elder Theodrick
[p. 175]
Boulware, in his autobiography, that William Bledsoe practiced a most disgraceful deception, at Gilberts Creek meeting house. Mr. Boulware was present during the meeting. He relates the circumstances in language of the following purport:

"My father moved to Kentucky, and settled at’ Craigs Station in what is now Garrard county, in 1784. We suffered much in the wilderness, from the fear of Indians, and the want of bread. For a time the settlers lived almost entirely on wild meat, without bread. In the year 1789, the inhabitants had become sufficiently numerous to defend themselves against the Indians. There was an Arminian Baptist church here, called Gilberts Creek, under the ministry of Joseph Bledsoe and his son William. Great excitement was produced by the following sentence, written on each of two hen's eggs: 'THE DAY OF GOD'S AWFUL JUDGMENT IS NEAR.' William Bledsoe read the sentence aloud, from the eggs, in the audience of the people. He professed to be alarmed, and the alarm was great among the people. The excitement continued many months, and about four hundred were added to the church."1

Theodrick Boulware was a Regular Baptist preacher of high standing, and was well known, both in Kentucky and Missouri, where he labored in the Gospel ministry, about sixty years. And although he was only nine years old when he witnessed the above proceedings, he was seventy-seven years old when he wrote the account of them, in 1857. William Bledsoe was, at that time, a young man, and possessed a brilliant genius; but was of that singularly erratic cast of mind that characterized the Bledsoe family of Kentucky at that period. He may have been deceived by some joke-loving wag who wrote the sentence on the eggs before they were taken from the nest.

The Baptists in Kentucky, in 1789, having heard that the Regular and Separate Baptists of Virginia had consummated a happy union among themselves, and were now all walking in fellowship, under the name of United Baptists, attempted to effect a similar union here. The effort did not succeed, and the breach was only widened, as it had been, from a similar cause,
[p. 176]
in 1785. The difficulties in the way of uniting the Regulars and Separates in Kentucky, were constantly increasing. The Regulars had adopted the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, with some specified modification, as an expression of their doctrine. The Separates refused to adopt "any creed but the Bible." The consequence was, that they had adopted most of the popular errors in doctrine, that were afloat in the land. Some of their leading preachers adopted Universalism. Others were Hell-Redemptionists, and most of them practiced "Open Communion." It might have been said of them, as it has been said of a more modern sect, without much prevarication, "They have all kinds of preachers, preaching all sorts of doctrines" A nominal union between the two sects was afterwards effected. But it will be seen in due time that it was only nominal, at least so far as a large number of the Separates were concerned.

HARDINS CREEK church was constituted in Nelson county, in 1789. It was gathered by that famous itinerant, Baldwin Clifton, who became its first pastor. It reported to Salem Association, in 1790, a membership of thirty-two. This church was located in a Catholic settlement, and, for a long time was very weak. In 18 15 it reported to the Association only ten members, and was advised by that body, at its next session, not to dissolve. It did not report to the Association again till 1826, when it had twenty-one members. From this time it had a slow growth till, in 1845, it reached a membership of 101. Since that time it has had rather an even course.

BALDWIN CLIFTON was very active among the pioneer preachers of Kentucky. We find traces of his labors in nearly all the older settlements of the State. But his movements were so rapid, that he formed but a passing acquaintance with the ministers of his generation. He appears to have gathered Hardins Creek church, in 1789. He probably gathered Pitmans Creek church, in 1791; for he represented it in Green River Association, at its second anniversary. He remained a member of Pitmans Creek church, till 1807. This year he was Moderator of Russells Creek Association. Two years after this, he was a member, and probably the pastor, of Mays Lick church, in Mason county. He preached the introductory sermon before Bracken Association, in 1809.

SMITH THOMAS was raised up to the ministry in Hardins
[p. 177]
Creek church. He may be truly styled one of the great men of his generation. He began his ministry in early life, and prosecuted it with great energy and extraordinary success till he was enfeebled with a lingering disease, which terminated his earthly career before he reached the age of sixty years.
Mr. Thomas was born in Washington county, Sep. 4, 1810. In the seventeenth year of his age, he sought and obtained hope in the Redeemer, and, was baptized into the fellowship of Hardins Creek church, by that eminent servant of Jesus Christ, David Thurman. Soon after his baptism, he began to exhort sinners to repent and turn to God. He was licensed to preach in his twenty-seventh year, and, after a few months, was ordained. He was invited to preach once a month at Cox's Creek church, in Nelson county, Isaac Taylor being the pastor. Not long after this, he was invited to preach once a month at Little Union church, in Spencer county, of which the venerable George Waller was pastor. This arrangement was not a happy one. Mr. Waller was a firm defender of the doctrine taught, by the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, while Mr. Thomas, was, at that period, inclined to Arminianism. This caused some unpleasant controversy in the church, and necessitated the withdrawal of both the preachers. It may be remarked here, that the policy of having two ministers to preach statedly to the same church, is a very bad one. In almost every case, it develops party spirit in the church, and, in many cases, genders bad feelings in the preachers, toward each other. When a church desires more preaching than it has been accustomed to have, let it demand more of the time and labor of its pastor. But if a church is so desirous of hearing a new preacher as to invite him to occupy her pulpit statedly, it would, in most cases, be wise in the pastor to resign.

On the death of Mr. Taylor, in 1842, Mr. Thomas became pastor of Cox's Creek church. During the same period, he served the churches at Mill Creek and New Salem, in Nelson county, and Mt. Washington in Bullitt. Under his ministry at New Salem, P. B. Samuels was converted, and brought into the ministry. In December, 1843, Mr. Thomas moved to Shelby county, and took charge of Simsonville church, to which he ministered several years. He also preached to Long Run,
[p. 178]
Dover, Clear Creek and some others, at different periods. He was a number of years moderator of Long Run Association. In 1854, his wife died. After this, he seemed restless and unsettled, and occupied but little time in the pastoral office. Previous to this sad event, he was a good student of the Bible. His sermons were well arranged, and no preacher in the State could interest an intelligent audience more than he. But the death of his wife was so severe a shock to his warm and sensitive nature, that he never recovered from it. He ceased to study, and was restless and unsatisfied, in any position. His social balance was deranged. He sought relief from the achings of a bereaved heart, in an untoward exuberance of social intercourse, which presented the appearance of the abandonment of himself to social pleasures, innocent in themselves, but having an appearance of lightness and frivolity, that detracted from the dignity of his holy calling, and injured his influence as a minister; especially in the last few years of his ministerial career. But he was not less, but more active in the ministry, after the death of his wife than before. He labored now, principally, as an Evangelist, and with extraordinary success. He estimated that he had baptized about thirteen hundred, while in the pastoral office, and had been instrumental in bringing into the churches, about two thousand who were baptized by other ministers. He wrote down this estimate, at the request of his daughter, ten years before his death. He probably added at least another thousand to this number, before he was called away from the field of labor. A peculiarity in Mr. Thomas' preaching was, that he always reached the best classes of society. A multitude of the best citizens of the country, were brought into the churches under his ministry. In a conversation with the author some years before his death, he called over the names of thirtyfour ministers of the Gospel, who had been brought into the Church under his ministry, and proposed to the President of Georgetown College to compare them with a like number of preachers who had been educated in that institution.

Mr. Thomas spent a part of several years in holding protracted meetings in Missouri, where his labors were attended with great success. Having, by some means, aroused the opposition of a Methodist minister, while engaged in one of these meetings, the clerical gentleman publicly challenged him

[p. 179]
to debate. Mr. Thomas promptly replied: “No, I will not debate with you; for if I were to defeat you, Methodism would suffer; and if you were to defeat me, the cause of truth would suffer.”

During one of these meetings, Mr. Thomas was attacked with hemorrhage of the lungs, which prostrated him for several months, and from which he never entirely recovered. He so far recovered, however, as to be able to preach several years afterwards. But his health gradually declined till, after several months of confinement, to his room, and much suffering from disease of the lungs and stricture of the bladder, he fell asleep in Jesus, at the residence of his daughter, in the city of Louisville, March 27, 1869. Thus passed away one of the most useful ministers Kentucky ever produced.

In person, Mr. Thomas was full six feet and two inches in height, and well proportioned. His complexion was very fair, his hair light, his eyes light blue, and his nose and mouth large. His features were regarded homely, but he presented a stately and commanding appearance in the pulpit.

As a preacher, he possessed extraordinary natural gifts. He had a strong, clear intellect, excellent practical judgment, well understood human nature, and possessed a voice full and round; every tone of which was musical and persuasive. He was not a classical scholar, but was thoroughly self educated in his holy calling. He was an orator of a high order. He was singularly original in his mode of thought and expression. His manner combined clear, easily understood, logic, with much tenderness of feeling, and almost irresistible persuasion. In the social circle, he charmed alike the cultivated gentleman, the practical business man, and the school girl of fifteen summers. His face was always wet with tears, in the pulpit, and bright with smiles, in the social circle. But even his tears were illuminated with smiles, while he described the beauties and joys of Heaven.

HENSON THOMAS, an older brother of Smith Thomas, was raised up, a preacher in Hardins Creek church. His gifts were very moderate. After preaching a few years in Kentucky, he moved to Missouri. At the breaking out of the late civil war, he came back to his native State, and remained a few years.
[p. 180]
At the restoration of peace, he returned to Missouri, where he is still living.

ELSEY THRELKELD HICKERSON was born in Virginia, January 27, 1807. His parents, who were both pious Baptists, and who lived to a good old age, moved to Kentucky, in 1808, and settled on Hardins creek, in Washington county. The father, William Hickerson, was long clerk of Hardins Creek church. He died in 1866. Elsey T. Hickerson was baptized into the fellowship of Hardins Creek church, while in his teens, by David Thurman. He began to exhort in early life. He succeeded his father as church clerk, and soon after his marriage to Miss Elenor Simms, Dec. 12, 1832, was ordained to the deaconship. He continued to exercise in prayer and exhortation, till June 11, 1842, when he was licensed to the work of the ministry. He was ordained by Joel Gordon, John Miller, JohnDuncan, and David Miller, February 28, 1843. In the Fall of the next year he moved to Mead county, and settled four miles from Brandenburg, where he spent the remainder of his life. He was pastor, at different periods, of Brandenburg, Stephensport, Sandy Hill, Constantine, Lost Run, Dorretts Creek, Concordia, Macedonia, and Spring Creek churches. Besides his regular pastoral labors, he preached at private houses, school houses, and, indeed, anywhere else, wherever he could get a few people together. He was emphatically a laborer in the Lord’s Vineyard. He followed the Apostolic example of “warning every man publicly and from house to house, with tears.”

His last work was at Brashears school house, in Breckinridge county, in the Fall of 1866. At the close of a series of meetings, he conducted at that place, he baptized thirty-three happy converts. Shortly after he reached home, he was attacked with some disease of the lungs, which terminated his life in a few days. On the 21st of November, 1866, this good man of God left the field of labor, and went to enjoy the rest that remains for the people of God. Mr. Hickerson was what is popularly denominated a dry preacher. He seemed to have no idea of the utility of oratory. His preaching consisted in a plain solemn statement of the doctrine contained in his text, without embellishment or illustration. But this was done well. He was a close Bible student, and had
[p. 181] a good understanding of the plan of salvation. Above all, he was a good man. Upon this subject, saints and sinners held but one opinion.

JESSAMINE CREEK churchappears to have been gathered by Martin Haggard, Joseph Anderson and Elijah Summars, all of whom were among its members. It was constituted in 1789, and united with South Kentucky Association, to which it reported, in 1790, a membership of sixty-eight. In 1807, its membership had decreased to forty-eight, and Elders Jas. Rucker and Robert R. Hunt were among its members. It is supposed to have been located in Jessamine county. It was probably swept away by the Campbellite schism.

The laying on of hands after baptism, became a subject of discussion and contention, during the year 1789. It was an ordinance, practised among the early Baptists of Virginia, and brought by the early settlers, to Kentucky. The authority for the practice was deduced from <580602>Hebrews 6:2. It seemed to be doubtful whether or not the passage taught this ordinance, as it had been practised heretofore, and some of the preachers omitted it. This caused disturbance in the churches, among those who supposed the Bible required it to be used, as the omission of baptism, by some of our ministers and churches, would cause disturbance among us now. The subject was introduced in Salem Association, in the form of two queries:

1. “Whether any of the churches of this Association practicing or not practicing the laying on of hands on church members will be a bar to fellowship?”
2. “Whether any church belonging to this Association ordaining a minister that cannot, in faith, practice the laying on of hands be a breach of communion?”

Both of these questions were decided in the negative. The practice soon fell into disuse, among the Regular Baptists, and there appears to have been no attempt to revive it. The following extract from John Taylor's History of South River church, in Fauquier county, Virginia, will give the reader a correct idea of how the ceremony was performed. In the year 1770, a precious work of grace was wrought among the people on South river. This work was under the ministry of William Marshall, John Pickett and Reuben Pickett.
[p. 182]
"None of those preachers,"{ says Mr. Taylor, "were ordained for several years. The first baptism administered in South river, was performed by the noted Samuel Harris, who traveled two hundred miles for that purpose. And an awfully solemn thing it was to the thousands who had never witnessed such a scene. I think fifty-three were baptized on that day. Several young ministers came with Mr. Harris, as Elijah Craig, John Waller, and a number of others. The rite of laying on hands was practiced by the Baptists in those nays. The practice was performed [on that occasion] as follows:" After they were baptized, "those upwards of fifty stood up in one solemn line, on the bank of the river, taking up about as many yards as there were individuals. The males stood first, in the line. About four ministers were together. They all laid their right hands on the head of the person to be dedicated, and one of them prayed. The prayer was offered with great solemnity and fervor, and for that particular person, according to his age and circumstances."2 In this manner they proceeded along the line, solemnly dedicating each one to the service of the Lord, till all had received the rite.

This ceremony must have been very solemn and impressive, and as long as it was believed to be scriptural, it was, doubtless, observed with reverence and holy delight. But as soon as the preachers could no longer practice it in faith, it was promptly abandoned.

But now another difficulty, and one that assumed much larger proportions, began to afflict the young churches. This also came with the pioneers from the Mother Sates, or followed them to their new homes in the western wilderness.

The subject of abolishing slavery was first introduced in the Baptist General Committee, at their meeting at Williams' meeting house, in Goochland county,' Virginia, March 7, 1788. The subject was regarded of such importance as to demand calm deliberation. It was, therefore, deferred till the meeting in August of next year, that the churches might have time to express their sentiments on the subject. The General Committee convened in Richmond, August 8, 1789. "The propriety of hereditary slavery was taken up at this session," says
[p. 183]
Mr. Semple, "and after some time employed in the consideration of the subject, the following resolution was offered by Mr. [John] Leland, and adopted:

"Resolved, That slavery is a violent deprivation of the rights of nature, and inconsistent with a Republican Government, and therefore recommend it to our brethren, to make use of every legal measure to extirpate this horrid evil from the land, and pray Almighty God that our honorable legislature, may have it in their power to proclaim the great jubilee, consistent with the principles of good policy." 3

` Here it will be seen that the early Baptists of Virginia, in their great general yearly meeting, declared their opposition to, and abhorrence of slavery, in no ambiguous terms. They viewed it as "a violent deprivation of the rights of nature," a "horrid evil," "inconsistent with a Republican Government" and "the principles of good policy." Whatever may be thought upon this subject now, it cannot be denied that the Baptists of ninety years ago were strongly opposed to slavery, and ardently desired, and pledged themselves to make use of every legal measure to secure its extirpation. They are entitled to the honor, or reproach, of being the first religious society in the South to declare explicitly in favor of the abolition of slavery.

The Baptist associations in Kentucky kept up a correspondence with the General Committee of Virginia Baptists, by letter and messengers,4 and were thereby advised of all their proceedings. The Baptists of Kentucky were too intimately connected with those of Virginia not to sustain, with them, a general harmony of sentiment. Very soon, therefore, after the agitation on the subject of slavery commenced among the Baptists of Virginia, a like agitation pervaded the churches of Kentucky, which was, indeed, a part of Virginia, at that time.

The first reference to the unlawfulness of slavery, found on the public records of Kentucky Baptists, is contained in the following queries, sent from RollingFork church, in Nelson county, to Salem Association,5 convened at Cox’s Creek church in
[p. 184]
the same county, on the 3d of October, 1789. "Is it lawful in the sight of God for a member of Christ's Church to keep his fellow creature in perpetual slavery?" The question was answered thus: "The Association judge it improper to enter into so important and critical a matter, at present."6 This answer gave no relief to the church. It soon afterwards with drew from the Association, "all except three members," who were advised to dissolve their organizations, and join other churches. Lick Creek church became divided on the subject of slavery, and was denied a seat in the Association, till the difficulty should be settled. Mill Creek church in Jefferson county sent up a query on the subject of slavery, in 1794, and, upon the Association's refusing to answer it, withdrew from that body. The preachers that headed the anti-slavery party, in this part of the State, were Joshua Carman and Josiah Dodge. Finding that they could accomplish nothing in the Association, they withdrew from that fraternity, with Mill Creek and Rolling Fork churches. They also constituted another church, six miles north-west of Bardstown, of such members of Cox's Creek, Cedar Creek and Lick Creek churches as had adopted their sentiments. This was, probably, the first church of emancipators constituted in Kentucky. They appear to have made no attempt to form an association at this time.

Meanwhile, Elkhorn Association, at its meeting, in August, 1791, “appointed a committee of three to draw up a memorial to the Convention to be held on the 3d day of April next, requesting them to take up the subject of Religious Liberty, and Perpetual Slavery, in the formation of the constitution of this District, and report at the ‘Crossing,’ on the 8th of September. Eastin, Garrard and Dudley were the committee.” At the meeting, at Great Crossing, in September of the same year, the “memorial on Religious Liberty and Perpetual Slavery was read and approved.” This action of the Association did not meet the approval of the churches. Accordingly, the next Association, which met at Bryants, in December of the same year, and which was probably convened, in extra session, for this express purpose, “Resolved, That the Association disapprove of the memorial which the last Association agreed to send
[p. 185]
to the Convention, on the subject of Religious Liberty and the Abolition of Slavery."7 For several years after this, the associations made no reference to the subject. But it still continued to agitate the churches, and several preachers of a high order of ability and extensive influence continued to preach against slavery.Emancipation parties were formed in many of the churches, by which their peace was much disturbed. The imprudence of the abolition preachers, in declaiming against slavery, in the presence of the negroes, caused insubordination among the slaves, and thereby disturbed the peace of society. This, however, was true only of the ignorant and more excitable preachers among the emancipators. The better class of these preachers were men of wisdom and piety. The disturbance became so manifest that Elkhorn Association, during its session at Bryants, in 1805, again took up the subject and passed a resolution, that "this Association judges it improper for ministers, churches or associations to meddle with emancipation from slavery, or any other political subject, and as such, we advise ministers and churches to have nothing to do therewith, in their religious capacities."8

This resolution gave great offense to the emancipators. They became much more active and determined in their opposition to slavery. Even the earnest and laborious William Hickman was carried beyond the limits of prudence. On a fast day of that same year, he preached at Elkhorn church, of which he was a member, and the pastor. His text was, Isaiah 58:6: "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?" "This sermon," says Theodrick Boulware, "was disingenuous and offensive. The speaker declared nonfellowship for all slaveholders. A few days afterwards, he wrote a letter to the church, declaring his withdrawal."9 Whether he went into the constitution of an emancipation church or not, does not appear. John Shackleford was called to the pastoral care of Forks of Elkhorn church for one year. Before his time was out Mr. Hickman returned and gave satisfaction
[p. 186]
to the church, and, when the year was out, resumed its pastorship.

About the same time, John Sutton led off a party from Clear Creek church, which united with a faction of Hillsboro' church, under the leadership of Carter Tarrant, and formed an emancipation church, called New Hope. This church was located in Woodford county, and was the first abolition church constituted in that region of the State.10

The excitement extended all over the settled portion of the State. Several churches in Bracken Association fell in with the emancipation scheme. Among these were Licking Locust, Lawrence Creek, Gilgal and Bracken. Among thechurches that united in the movement, from North District, were Mount Sterling and Bethel. These and a number of other churches effected an organization, in September, 1807, under the name of "The Baptized Licking- Locust Association, Friends of Humanity." At their next meeting they Resolved "that the present mode of associations, or confederation of churches was unscriptural. They then proceeded to form themselves into an Abolition Society."11 We have no means, at present, of knowing the number of churches or preachers that went into this organization. Mr. Benedict estimates their number at twelve churches, twelve ministers and 300 members. In 1816, they met at Lawrence Creek meeting house, in Mason county, under the name of "The Association of Baptists, Friends of Humanity." The following churches were represented: Bracken, Gilgal, Lawrence Creek, Mt. Sterling, Bullskin and Bethel. No account was received from New Hope in Woodford county. The preaching was by Jacob Mahan, Moses Edwards -- and Alexander. The Lord's Supper was administered by David Barrow -- and Thompson. There is a manifest tendency to "open communion" and other signs of decay, exhibited in the meager journal of their proceedings. The body kept up a feeble, withering existence till about the year 1820, when it was dissolved.

The emancipation movement, doubtless, originated in the honest convictions of sincere men. We cannot doubt the
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integrity of such men as James Garrard, Ambrose Dudley, Wm. Hickman and others who inaugurated the scheme, in Elkhorn Association. It is true that these men soon discovered the futility of the scheme, and withdrew from a hopeless contest. They were too wise to spend their strength in endeavoring to accomplish an impossibility. But they went far enough to place themselves on record, and thus proved that they only tolerated slavery because they must. But we have no more reason to doubt the sincerity of Joshua Carman, Josiah Dodge, Carter Tarrant, John Sutton and David Barrow, who were more hopeful of success, and continued to prosecute their undertaking till God called them away from the field of labor to the land of rest. But the sincerity of the movers did not sanctify the movement. It was simply one of those unfortunate mistakes that grew out of the weakness of human judgment. The Emancipation movement accomplished little or no good, and a vast amount of evil. It disturbed the Baptist churches in Kentucky for a period of thirty years. It rent in sunder many of the churches, stirred up the bad passions of the people, gendered a spirit of insubordination among the slaves, and almost entirely destroyed the influence and usefulness of a number of excellent preachers.

JOSIAH DODGE was among the first preachers in Kentucky, who refused to fellowship slaveholders. He was set apart to the ministry, at Severns Valley church in Hardin county. Joshua Carman, a brief sketch of whose life has been given, was called to the care of that church in 1787. He was a zealous emancipationist, and under his ministry, doubtless, Mr. Dodge imbibed his sentiments on that subject. Mr. Carman preached but a short time to this church. When he resigned, Josiah Dodge became its preacher, being a licentiate. In 1791, Severns Valley church sent Mr. Dodge to Salem Association, at Cox's Creek, with a request that the Association would appoint competent preachers to examine him, with respect to his ministerial qualifications. For this purpose the Association appointed James Garrard (afterward governor of Kentucky), William Wood of Mason county, William Taylor and Baldwin Clifton. These brethren reported that they were entirely satisfied with his qualifications. The Association "resolved that brother Josiah Dodge be ordained." This was
[p. 188]
a singular proceeding for a Baptist Association. But the scarcity of ministers, at that time, rendered it expedient. The Association was careful to state in their minutes that their action in this case was at the request of the church of which Mr. Dodge was a member.

Immediately after his ordination, Mr. Dodge became pastor of Severns Valley church, at a salary of "thirty pounds a year, to be paid inconvenient trade." He continued to serve this church till about the year 1800, when he was succeeded by Joshua Morris. It was not far from this time that he and Joshua Carman commenced their Emancipation enterprise, independent of the churches and association of which they had been members. Mr. Dodge and Mr. Carman, with their congregations, according to Tarrant's History of the Emancipators, were the first who separated from the Baptists of Kentucky on account of slavery.12

Josiah Dodge was the first preacher ordained in the bounds of Salem Association, and appears to have been a preacher of good gifts. He was much needed in that region, at that period. But his emancipation sentiments destroyed his influence, and he died young.

JOHN SUTTON was the next preacher who agitated the subject of emancipation with any considerable effect, in Kentucky. He was a native of New Jersey. In early life he went to Nova Scotia as a missionary. He was in that province, as early as 1763. After remaining there till 1769, he started to return to New Jersey. But on his way, he visited Newport, Rhode Island. Here he accepted an invitation to preach to the first church in that town. After remaining there six months, he went on his journey to New Jersey. After his arrival, he was called to succeed Samuel Heaton in the pastoral care of Cape May church.

Here again, his stay was brief. After this he spent a brief period in Virginia, and was pastor a short time, of Salem church located 36 miles south-west of Philadelphia. Then he spent a time in the Redstone county (southwestern part of Pennsylvania), from whence he came to Kentucky. He settled in Woodfordcounty, and became a member of Clear
[p. 189]
Creek church, not far from the year 1790. Here he commenced a warfare against slavery, and became so turbulent that he was arraigned before the church for his abuse of the brethren. But having won Carter Tarrant, pastor of Hillsboro' and Clear Creek churches, to his views, they led off a faction from each of these bodies and formed New Hope church of "Baptists Friends of Humanity." This was the first abolition church within the bounds of Elkhorn Association. It was constituted in Woodford county, about the year 1805. Soon after this, Mr. Sutton became blind. He, however, continued to travel and preach till near the close of his life. He died, aged about 80 years.

John Sutton was one of four brothers, all of whom were Baptist preachers. The others were named, James, Isaac and David. James settled in Kentucky, about the time his brother John did. Of John Sutton, Mr. Benedict says: "He was a man of considerable distinction in his day." John Taylor says: "In rich expositions from the Scriptures, he had but few equals." "But great as was his preaching talent," continues Mr. Taylor, "he scolded himself out of credit in the church." He was a man of irascible temper, which greatly impaired his usefulness. Yet there is no reason to doubt his sincerity. He was exceedingly active and energetic in his holy calling, and doubtless accomplished much good in the early part of his ministry.

CARTER TARRANT another active preacher among the emancipators, was a native of Virginia. He was for a time, pastor of Upper Banister church, in Pittsylvania county, which was, in 1774, the largest church in Virginia. He was one of the early settlers in what was then Logan county, Kentucky; and was very active and successful in gathering the earliest churches in the Green River country, and in organizing them into Green River Association. He afterward moved to Woodford county, where he became the pastor of Hillsboro' and Clear Creek churches, and, as already noted, joined John Sutton in constituting New Hope church of emancipation Baptists. For a few years, he was very active in promoting the emancipation scheme. But becoming much reduced in his worldly circumstances, he accepted a position as Chaplin in the American Army, during the war with England, in 1812-15.
[p. 190]
While discharging the duties of that office, he died at New Orleans.

Carter Tarrant was regarded a good and useful man, and a preacher of above medium ability, in his day. He published a History of the Emancipationists in Kentucky.

DONALD HOLMES was a man of some brilliancy of intellect, and sprightliness in speaking, but was "unstable in all his ways."

Mr. Holmes was a native of Scotland, had a good English education, and was raised a Presbyterian. He came to America as a soldier, during the American Revolution. He was taken prisoner, and paroled. While a prisoner at large, he engaged in teaching school in Frederick county, Virginia. Here he was baptized by John Taylor into the fellowship of Happy Creek church, about the year 1780. He soon began to preach and gave promise of usefulness. But there was in that church, at the same period, a brilliant young preacher by the name of Duncan McLean, who was also a British soldier. McLean soon began to preach Elhanan Winchester's chimerical notion of Universal Restoration. Holmes was led off by the same error, and they were both excluded from the church. McLean became a great champion of the "Hell Redemption" theory, preached it with flaming zeal in the large eastern cities, for a time, then became an avowed Deist, if not an Atheist, moved to Kentucky, and died near Bardstown, not far from 1820. Holmes was restored to Happy Creek church, and soon afterward, moved to Woodford county, Kentucky, and united with Clear Creek church. Here he was again set forward in the ministry. But here again, he was led off by John Sutton, with the emancipationists. He remained with this faction till it came to nought, and then moved to Ohio, and died about the same time that McLean did.

JACOB GREGG was among the emancipators. He was a native of England, and was educated at Bristol Academy. Early in life he entered the Baptist ministry, and was sent as a missionary to Sierra Leon, in Africa. Here he remained a short time, and then sailed for America. He first settled at Portsmouth, Virginia, where he preached for a time, and then married a Miss Goodwin. After visiting Kentucky, and spending the summer of 1796, he moved to North Carolina,
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and took charge of the church at Northwest River Bridge. Here he labored a few years and then moved to Kentucky. He settled in Mason county, and took charge of May's Lick church in 1802. Shortly after this he espoused the cause of the emancipationists. To this cause he gave his splendid abilities during a period of two or three years. But meeting with unsurmountable opposition in this hopeless enterprise, he moved to Ohio, and, after remaining there only a few months he returned to Virginia, and settled in Richmond, in 1808. Here he conducted a school several years. Here also it became apparent to his brethren that he was indulging too freely in intoxicating drinks. When called to account for this sin he acknowledged his fault and promised amendment. But as he did not wholly abandon the use of strong drink, he was afterwards frequently overtaken in the same fault. About the year 1816 he moved to Philadelphia, and took the care of Market Street church in that city. Subsequently he returned to Virginia, and spent the evening of his life in itinerating. He died in Sussex county, Virginia, after a few days illness, in 1836.

Elder J.B. Taylor says of Mr. Gregg: "It will not be a departure from the truth to represent him as possessing extraordinary powers of mind. Perhaps the most remarkable trait in his intellectual character was a tenacious memory. It is said that while on the ocean, after he left his native land, he memorized the Old and New Testaments, and the whole of Watts' Psalms."13

GEORGE SMITH was born in Buckingham county, Virginia, March 15, 1747. His parents were highly respectable, and their son enjoyed the advantages of the best society. He was married to Judith Guerrant, October 20, 1765. He was bred an Episcopalian, and was clerk of the church, previous to his becoming a Baptist. When the Baptists first visited his neighborhood, he went to hear them preach, from vain curiosity. But the Lord sent an arrow to his heart, and he found no peace till he obtained it through the blood of a crucified Redeemer. He was baptized into the fellowship of Powhatan church in Powhatan county, by the famous David Tinsley. He soon commenced exhorting, and, according to Mr. Semple, became "an
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excellent preacher." He was intimately associated with William Hickman, the Dupuys and his younger half brother, George Stokes Smith, in spreading the gospel in Cumberland and Chesterfield counties. During his life, he and William Hickman were knit together in soul, like Jonathan and David.

When John Dupuy moved to Kentucky, in 1784, George Smith succeeded him in the pastoral care of Powhatan church. He also became pastor of Skinquarter and Tomahawk churches, in Chesterfield county. These churches were prosperous and happy under his ministry, till 1804, when he moved to Kentucky, having previously visited it ten times. He first stopped in Woodford county, but, shortly afterwards, bought land in Franklin county, divided from that of his old yoke-fellow, William Hickman, by Elkhorn creek. Here the two old veterans of the cross lived like brothers indeed, till they were separated by death.

He arrived here just at the time the excitement on the slavery question had reached its maximum height, warmly espoused the anti-slavery side, and gave his full strength to its advocacy. This rendered him unpopular among the Kentucky churches. He, however, continued to preach. At one time there was an extensive revival under his preaching in his own house. He departed this life on the 9th of August, 1820.14

DAVID BARROW was much the most distinguished preacher among the emancipationists in Kentucky. With the exception of John Gano, he was probably the ablest preacher, and, without any exception, the ablest writer among the Baptist ministers in Kentucky, at the beginning of the presentcentury. Of his purity of life, devotion to the cause of his beloved Master and constancy of zeal and piety, it would be difficult to say too much. He began his ministry with flaming zeal and dauntless courage, at an unusually early period of life, and at a time that “tried men’s souls,” and labored on through trials, suffering and persecutions, without apparent abatement of zeal, faltering of courage, or a visible spot
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on his garment, till God took him to himself, at a ripe old age. That he made mistakes, as all men in the flesh do, there can be no doubt; but that he acted from sincere motives, with a view to promote the glory of God and the good of men, during his entire ministry, we have the united opinion of all his cotemporaries, whose testimony has reached us.

David Barrow was born in Brunswick county, Virginia, October 30, 1753. His father, William Barrow, was a plain farmer who, after raising his family, moved to North Carolina, and died in the gist year of his age. David was brought up on a farm, with very little education. But after his marriage, he studied grammar under Elder Jeremiah Walker, and it is said that "he became an excellent grammarian." He professed conversion at about the age of sixteen years, and was baptized by Zachariah Thompson, into Fountains Creek church. Like most of his cotemporaries, who became Baptist ministers, in Virginia, he began to exhort others to seek the Savior almost immediately after he, himself, had found him precious to his soul. He was ordained to the full work of the gospel ministry in his 19th year, and, in the same year, was married to Sarah, daughter of Hinchia Gillum, a respectable farmer of Sussex county, Virginia, and a native of Scotland. The ordination of Mr. Barrow occurred in 1771. For three years from this time, he did not enter the pastoral office, but traveled and preached extensively in Virginia and North Carolina. During this period, and till two or three years later, he was called on to endure much hardness for the Master. But he bore it as a good soldier for Christ.

In 1774, he became pastor of the Isle of Wight church. There were several churches in this vicinity, and the contiguous parts of North Carolina, that had been gathered by a sect then called General Baptists. They held substantially the same doctrine that is now preached by the Campbellites. Some account of this sect was given in the sketch of John Tanner. Mr. Barrow joined with Mr. Tanner and others, in renovating these churches. In this they succeeded, and in a few years they had a respectable association of churches, formed on the orthodox plan. They took out of the old churches such as could give a satisfactory account of a change of heart, and formed them in to new churches, to which many were added by experience
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and baptism. The old churches soon perished. By this means Kehukee Association was formed.

At the breaking out of the Revolution, in 1776, Mr. Barrow shouldered a musket, and entered the army in defense of his country. When his term of service ended he entered, or, rather, continued his warfare in the service of Christ; for he was not the less a Christian when he was a soldier, in the service of his country. "His unexceptionable deportment rendered him very popular with all classes of men." Mr. Benedict gives the following incident, as a specimen of the rude persecutions this eminent and devoted servant of Christ was compelled to endure.

In 1778, Mr. Barrow was invited to preach at the house of a gentleman, living on Nansemond river, near the mouth of James river. A preacher of the name of Mintz accompanied him. On their arrival, they were informed that they might expect rough usage. And so it happened. A gang of well dressed men came up to the stage, which had been erected under some trees. As soon as a hymn was given out, the persecutor sang an obscene song. They then seized both the preachers, and dragged them down to a muddy pond, saying to them: “As you are fond of dipping, you shall have enough of it.” They then plunged Mr. Barrow into the mud and water, holding him under till he was almost drowned. They then raised him up and asked him derisively if he believed. In this manner they plunged him the third time, asking him each time if he believed. He finally said: "I believe you will drown me." They plunged Mr. Mintz but once. The whole assembly was shocked. The women shrieked. But none dared to interfere; for about twenty stout fellows were engaged in this horrid measure. They insulted and abused the gentleman who invited them to preach, as well as every one who spoke in their favor. Before these persecuted men could change their clothes, they were dragged from the house and driven off by these outrageous churchmen.

Such were some of the persecutions the Baptists had to endure, only a hundred years ago, for no other crime than that of preaching the gospel. And let it not be forgotten that the persecutors were members of the Episcopal church. Let no one entertain a vindictive, or even unkind, feeling towards the
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church, under whose auspices these horrid outrages were committed. But it would surely be unwise to forget that the principles which led to these monstrous cruelties, in the past, would lead to the same results again, should their adherents ever gain sufficient power.

But in the case related above, he who said: "Vengeance is mine, I will repay," avenged his servants, speedily. Three or four of these persecutors died in a distracted manner, in a few weeks, and one of them wished that he had been in hell before he joined the company.15

"After the Revolution, Mr. Barrow was persuaded to accept the office of magistrate, the duties of which he discharged with fidelity, for some years.” But finding that this office interfered with his ministerial duties, he resigned it. Henceforth he gave himself wholly to his sacred calling. While contending for the liberty of the American colonies, he imbibed the notion of universal liberty. Upon this principle, he came to the conclusion that it was sinful to hold slaves. Accordingly, he freed all his negroes, of which he owned a considerable number. "Although this measure proved his disinterested zeal to do right,” remarks Mr. Semple, "it is questionable whether it was not, in the end productive of more harm than good. While it lessened his resources at home, for maintaining a large family, it rendered him suspicious among his acquaintances, and probably in both ways limited his usefulness."

Besides the church on the Isle of Wight, Mr. Barrow was pastor of Shoulder Hill, Black Creek and Mill Swamp churches; all of which were prosperous under his ministry. For a number of years before he moved to the West, he was generally the moderator of Portsmouth Association. After laboring with great zeal and success in Virginia and North Carolina during a period of more than twenty years, he moved to Kentucky. He arrived in Montgomery county, June 24, 1998, where he settled for the remainder of his earthly life. There "he quickly distinguished himself as a man of piety, talent and usefulness." When Governor Garrard and Augustine Eastin embraced Unitarianism, Mr. Barrow was one of the committee, sent by Elkhorn Association to convince them and Cowper's Run church,
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of their error. In 1803, he published a pamphlet on "The Trinity." This production exhibited marked ability, and, doubtless, did much to check the progress of that growing heresy, against which it was written. Mr. Barrow was also employed in negociating terms of union between the Regular and Separate Baptists, in 1801, and, as he had been successful in a similar enterprise, in North Carolina, so he and his coadjutors were now successful in Kentucky.

Soon after his arrival in Kentucky, Mr. Barrow united with Mount Sterling church, and became its pastor. He also accepted the pastoral care of Goshen and Lulbegrud churches. In a history of Lulbegrud church, published in 1877, the author speaks of its ancient pastor thus: "Elder David Barrow was a man of the highest order of talent; a fine preacher, very zealous, well educated, possessed a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures, and was known in his day as the 'Wise Man.'" This was not saying too much. Perhaps no minister in Kentucky enjoyed the confidence and esteem of his brethren, and the people generally, in a higher degree than did Mr. Barrow. But he did not long enjoy this popularity. The people became excited on the subject of slavery, through the intemperate zeal of Sutton and Carman. Mr. Barrow was an emancipationist from principle, and this was well known. But He was "a wise man," and would have advocated his views with prudence. But imprudent zealots hurried on a crisis. Elkhorn Association transcended its legitimate authority, in fulminating a bull, concerning what churches and preachers should not teach. But North District Association made a nearer approach to papal arrogance. It not only expelled Mr. Barrow from his seat in that body, but also appointed a committee to go to his church and accuse him there.16 This presented to the church the alternative of excluding their pastor from the church, or being excluded from the Association. There was no charge of immorality or heresy against Mr. Barrow or his church. The complaint was that he preached emancipation. Such an action by a mere "advisory council" serves to give an idea of the excitement that prevailed at that time. Elkhorn and North District Associations were guided by good and wise men, who well
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understood the duties, privileges and powers of associations, and were jealous of the rights of the churches. But the madness of fanaticism ruled the hour, and under its influence, they made this blunder. Thus excluded from the fellowship of the great body of the Baptists in Kentucky, Mr. Barrow directed his attention to the few that would fellowship him. He soon brought order out of confusion. The churches and fragments of churches that held to the emancipation scheme were organized, and a respectable Association was formed. Mr. Barrow published a pamphlet of sixty-four pages on the evils of slavery. It is said to have been well written, "in a calm, dignified and manly style." This served to strengthen the “Friends of Humanity,” and, possibly made some converts. But the popular current was too strong for the little emancipation bark to stem. The Society soon began to wither. Mr. Barrow supported it with zeal and wisdom as long as he lived. But when his hand was taken away, it speedily perished. How sad that fourteen years of the life of such a man should have been wasted in so hopeless an enterprise. However, he continued to labor in the gospel, abundantly, till God called him away.

As the close of this good man's life drew near, he anticipated it with triumphant joy. A little before he breathed his last, he repeated a part of the 23rd Psalm. On Sabbath morning, Nov. 14, 1819, he passed triumphantly from the thorny walks of men to the paradise of God.17


1 Boulware's Auto-Biography, p. 3.
2 History of Ten Churches, 9, 10.
3 HIs. Va. Bap., p. 79.
4 Elder Thomas Shelton was killed by the Indians while on his way from Kentucky to attend the meeting of the General Committee, in 1794.
5 Clack's Annals of Salem Assoc., p. 4.
6 Clack's Annals of Salem Assoc., p. 4.
7 Manly's Annals Elkhorn Assoc.
8 Manly's Annals.
9 Boulware's Auto-Biography, p. 5.
10 History of Ten Churches, 81.
11 Benedict, Vol. 2, p. 248.
12 Benedicts His. Bap., Vol. 2, p. 248.
13 Lives of Va. Bap. Min., pp. 361, 262.
14 For the prinicple facts in this sketch, the author is indebted to the venerable George Forsee, a grandson of Mr. Smith, still living in Owenton, Ky., in his 94th year.
15 Benedicts His. Bap., Vol. 2, p. 249.
16 Benedicts His. Bap., Vol. 2, p. 249.
17 The author is indebted to an aged son of Mr. Barrow, recently living in Montgomery county, for many interesting facts concerning his father.
[John Henderson Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists, 1885; rpt. CHR&A, 1984.]

Chapter 14
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