M'Connels Run, Cartwrights, Forks of Licking, Blue Ash and Otter Creek Churches
In the beginning of the year, 1795, the religious outlook was not less gloomy than it had been a year before. At the fall meetings of the four associations in the State, sixty-eight churches had been reported. These contained an aggregate membership which may be fairly estimated at 4,019, and the baptisms during the year at seventy-two, little more than one to a church. While the State was filling up with an immense tide of immigration, from Pennsylvania, Virginia and the Carolinas, in which States the Baptists formed a prominent, if not the dominant sect, the aggregate increase of church members in Kentucky was so small as to be merely nominal. The loss in proportion to the population was large. Yet it is difficult to discover any adequate cause for such a decided religious declension. The country was enjoying entire peace, and the earth was yielding abundant harvests. The excitement in political circles in regard to opening the Mississippi to free navigation, would produce but little effect on the masses of the people. There was some emigration from Kentucky to Missouri and the "Illinois country." "The old Kentucky pioneer," Daniel Boone, moved west of the Mississippi river in 1795, and a small church had been constituted at the mouth of Silver creek, in Madison county, to move to the “Illinois country."1 But the emigration was not sufficiently large to seriously affect the churches. A few small churches were constituted this year, most of which have long since passed away, and even their names have been forgotten. But the historian is expected to record what has been rather than what is. It is fit, therefore,
that the names, and what little can be ascertained of the history of these churches, should find a place here.
CARTWRIGHTS CREEK church was located on a small water course from which it derives its name, in what is now Marion county. It was constituted a separate Baptist church, in 1795, and united with South Kentucky Association, the same year. It continued in this Association till South District was formed in 1802, when it took the appellation of United Baptist, and remains a member of the latter association, till the present time, having moved its location to Lebanon.
It has not been definitely ascertained who gathered this church, but that honor is probably due to JOSEPH MILBURN, of whom little is known, except that he was ordained to the ministry at Pottengers Creek, in Nelson county, and was pastor of Cartwright's Creek church, in 1799. The church seems never tohave been large; yet it held some very prominent citizens in its membership. In 1806, it contained twenty-six members, in 1844, it had thirty-nine members, and, in 1856, it reached a membership of fifty-eight.
OWEN OWENS was a preacher in this church at an early period. He was born in North Wales, in October, 1746. At seventeen years of age, he went to London, and two years afterward, set sail for America. He landed at Philadelphia. From there he went to Augusta county, Va., and thence to Holston river; here the spirit of the Lord overtook the wanderer. He professed conversion, and was baptized into Cherokee church by James Keel. Thence he came to Kentucky, and was ordained to the ministry, in Madison county, by Andrew Tribble, Christopher Harris and Peter Woods. He settled early in what was then Washington county, and united with the Cartwrights Creek church. He appears to have been held in esteem by the church. But, adopting emancipation views, and not being able to bring the church over to his doctrine, he and his wife withdrew from its fellowship, in January, 1807.2 He was then far advanced in years, and probably never returned to the church.
JOEL GORDON became pastor of Cartwrights Creek church about the year, 1813. Those who knew this venerable man of God, even when he was eighty years old, are likely to retain
a vivid recollection of his appearance, as long as memory lasts. He was fully six feet high, almost as straight as a youth, and dressed as scrupulously neat as if he had been a young man going to see his sweetheart. His eyes were bright and beaming, his "hair was white like wool," but as neatly combed as that of a young lady dressed for a party, and his ruddy countenance beamed with a gentle, mild brightness that must have charmed all who looked upon his face, while every movement of his person and intonation of his voice exhibited the grace and dignity of a courtier. Yet his manner was so simple and unaffected that he drew to him all who came within the sphere of his influence. His constant theme was the love of God; that love filled his own soul, and was reflected from every feature of his countenance.
Mr. Gordon was born in King county, Va., June, 1782. He was the sixth of eleven children born to his parents, not one of whom died under sixty-five years of age. He came with his parents to Kentucky, and with them settled in Washington county, in February, 1797. After several months struggle with sin and unbelief, he obtained a joyous hope in Christ, and was baptized by John Penny into the fellowship of Cartwrights Creek church, of which Joseph Milburn was pastor, in the spring of 1800. A few months afterwards, he moved his membership to Pleasant Run church in Washington county, where he was presently licensed to exercise his gift in exhortation. His zealous exhortations were speedily blessed of God, in bringing sinners to salvation.
In 1804, he married Nancy Bradburn, of Fayette county. She was very young and unconverted, but was soon afterward led to the Savior by the faithfulness of her godly husband. Soon after his marriage he moved to Green county, where he united with Sand Lick church. There he held meetings at his own house, which resulted in a revival in the neighborhood, and a number were converted and added to Sand Lick church. About this time (1812) he moved into the bounds of old Brush Creek church, and was immediately ordained to its pastoral care, by John Chandler, Joseph Cogdill and Thomas Skaggs. Here his labors were much blessed, and many were added to the church.
In 1813 he moved back to Washington county, and again united with Cartwrights Creek church, of which he was immediately
chosen pastor. About the same time he took charge of Deep Creek church in Mercer and, soon afterward, of Bush Fork church in Washington county, to both of which he ministered about twenty-five years. He was also pastor of Doctors Fork church, in Boyle, and after he resigned, at Cartwrights Creek, of Hillsboro, in Washington.
About 1854, he resigned the care of all his charges on account of the encroachments of old age, and spent the twilight of his life with his family. Meanwhile, his interest in the cause of his beloved Savior never diminished. He spoke to the people about the Savior, publicly, as his strength would admit. His was a beautiful old age, and on the 28th of March, 1867, his sun set without the shadow of a cloud.
As a public speaker, Joel Gordon was below, rather than above mediocrity. His education and his reading were very limited. But he read one book, believed it with all his heart, and practiced its precepts. He was great in zeal and consecration, and, depending on God for his blessings, they were not withheld. His grandson, Wm. T. Gordon, has recently left the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and is preaching in Florida.
BLUE ASH church, since called Bethel, was located in Montgomery county, and was admitted into South Kentucky Association, in 1795. During that year, Elijah Summars was installed its pastor. After a few years, Mr. Summars gave place to Moses Bledsoe, who had given his membership to the church. Mr. Bledsoe was succeeded, in 1817, by "Raccoon" John Smith, under whose ministry the church attained, in 1820, a membership of 72. After this it gradually declined, till 1826, when it was reported to North District Association, "dissolved amicably."
ELIJAH SUMMARS probably gathered Blue Ash church. At least, he was installed its pastor, in 1795. After a brief term of service here, he moved to Green county, where he appears to have raised up Mt. Gilead church duringthe great revival of 1800-3. After preaching to that congregation a few years, he gave place to the distinguished Isaac Hodgen, and moved to Henry county, where he was a preacher in Drennons Creek (now Newcastle) church, as late as 1812. After this, he raised up Rockbridge church in Washington county, and preached to it some years. This is the last we hear of him.
STAMPING GROUND church, formerly McConnels Run, is located in Scott county, and was gathered by the famous Wm. Hickman. He commenced preaching in the settlement in a Mr. Ficklin’s barn, and afterwards held meetings at the house of John Scott, who had first invited him to the neighborhood.
A number was baptized. These with several persons dismissed from Great Crossing church, for the purpose, were formed into a church of 35 members. It was constituted by William Hickman, Ambrose Dudley, and William Cave, at the house of Rhodes Smith, en the fourth Sabbath in September, 1795. It was styled McConnels Run church, and was received into Elkhorn Association, the following year, when it reported a membership of 75. Elijah Craig was chosen its pastor, at the time of its constitution. He held the position only a few months, when, having a large business interest to superintend; being advanced in life, and having feeble health, he induced the church to call William Hickman to its pastoral care. Mr. Hickman continued to serve in this capacity, ten years, during which the church greatly prospered. During the year 1801, it received 156 members by experience and baptism, and 24 were baptized the next year. Jacob Creath succeeded Mr. Hickman at McConnels Run. He served the church four years, during which only two persons were baptized into its membership, and the church decreased from 177, to 150 members.
In 1810, James Suggett was called to the pastoral care of this church and ministered to it three years, during which more than 50 were received by baptism. Samuel Trott was the next pastor. He was called about 1813. He remained among them but a short time, when William Hickman was again called, and served four years. In 1818, fourteen members were dismissed to form a church on Lecompts Run. The church was constituted; but in February of the next year it united with the mother church again, a new house was built at Stamping Ground, McConnels Run church moved to it, and took its present name from its new location. James Suggett was again called to the care of the church, in 1819, and served about six years. Then Theodrick Boulware served the church one year. He was succeeded by Silas Mercer Noel, who served but a short time.
In January, 1828, James D. Black was called to the care of
Stamping Ground church. At that time it numbered 250 members. He served the church thirty years, during the whole of which time it was remarkably prosperous. Mr.Black baptized into its fellowship over one thousand persons. When he resigned at the close of 1857, it numbered 250 white members, and was the largest church in Elkhorn Association, except the first church in Lexington. Since that period it has changed pastors too often to be very prosperous. It is, however, still one of the leading churches in Elkhorn Association.
JACOB CREATH SR., was born about the year 1770, in Nova Scotia, but was raised in Culpeper county, Va. His parents were poor, and unable to educate him. But, being a sprightly lad, he attracted the attention of Col. Carter, a wealthy man of Culpeper county, who, gaining the consent of his parents, took the boy to his home, raised him up under his roof, and gave him a fair education. When he arrived at manhood, like Jacob of old, he became greatly enamored of his benefactor’s daughter. Either thinking it would be dishonorable to make love to her, or supposing his wooing would be ineffectual, he resolved to overcome his sorrows in the wilds of the great west. He made the necessary preparations, bade the family adieu, and started on his long and lonely journey, with a heavy heart. But the young lady, who warmly reciprocated his passion, met him at the door, caught him by the lapel of the coat, avowed her love for him, and insisted that he should not go away without taking her with him. They at once laid the case before her father. He interposed no objection to their marriage. The journey was deferred, and they were soon afterwards happily united.3
Mr. Creath probably moved to Kentucky, about the year 1804. He settled near Lexington, and united with Town Fork church. On the death of the venerable John Gano, on the 9th of August of that year, Mr. Creath succeeded him in the pastoral care of Town Fork church. He was better educated than most of the preachers in Kentucky. He was just at the prime of manhood, presented a fine personal appearance, "was inclined to be foppish in his dress," was easy and elegant in his address, and was probably the first orator (if John Bailey may
not be excepted in the Kentucky pulpit. He was bold, aspiring and ambitious, and possessed fine tact for carrying the populace with him. "When I came to Kentucky," said the distinguished John Bryce,4 "among the first preachers I met was Jacob Creath. I asked him how the brethren were getting on in Kentucky. He replied: 'Badly enough: all the preachers out here want to ride Ball.' I soon found," continued Mr. Bryce, “that Jacob Creath was more anxious to ride Ball than any other of the preachers I met with."
Soon after Mr. Creath became a member, and the pastor, of Town Fork church, he proposed to exchange a negro girl he owned, for one owned by Thomas Lewis who was also a member of Town Fork church. The exchange was made, and Mr. Creath gave his note to Mr. Lewis, for the difference in the value ofthe slaves. A few months after the transaction, the girl Mr. Creath had gotten from Mr. Lewis died. When Mr. Creath’s note to Mr. Lewis became due, the former refused to pay it. The matter was brought before the church, and it was decided that, "as Mr. Lewis was rich, and Mr. Creath was poor," the latter should be released from paying the note.5 This decision greatly offended the sense of justice in a number of the wisest and best ministers of Elkhorn Association. Elijah Craig, who had been one of the most eminent and useful preachers in Virginia, a bold, blunt, out-spoken man, whose honest candor disdained all policy, and who had, in the decline of his life, become somewhat soured in his temper, expressed, not only his own feeling, but that of a number of other prominent ministers, toward Mr. Creath, in a pamphlet tilted "A portrait of Jacob Creath." The piece is said to have been written in a style of inexcusable bitterness. By this time the party spirit had extended all over the Association, and had become so intense as to be blind. Town Fork church, a majority of which was of Creath’s party, called a council to pass upon, rather than investigate the fourteen charges made against Mr. Creath, in Mr. Craig's pamphlet. Mr. Creath was acquitted. This only intensified the party spirit. The breach widened till it resulted in a division of Elkhorn Association, and
the formation of Licking Association, of the churches that were opposed to Mr. Creath.
Besides Town Fork and Stamping Ground, Mr. Creath was pastor of Clear Creek, South Elkhorn and various other churches, at different periods. His pastorates were generally short, and he seems to have had much more capacity for tearing down, than for building up. He was among the first converts to Campbellism. He carried South Elkhorn church, of which he was then pastor, into the maelstrom of this fanaticism, and his name appears no more on Baptist records.
JAMES SUGGETT succeeded Jacob Creath as pastor of Stamping Ground church. He was a valuable preacher. His temperament was warm and impulsive, and his gift of exhortation was extraordinary. He was a successful preacher within the bounds of Elkhorn Association, nearly a quarter of a century.
He was the son of John Suggett, long a deacon in Great Crossing church in Scott county, and was born, probably in Virginia, May 2, 1785. He was brought by his parents to Scott county, Ky., at least as early as 1785. He professed conversion, and was baptized into the fellowship of Great Crossing church, probably by Joseph Redding, in May, 1800. On the first of October of the same year, the church encouraged him to exercise his gift. On the first Saturday in July of the following year, he was licensed to preach the gospel. His ordination was called for at North Fork church, in 1802, but for somecause, he was not ordained till eight years afterwards. He may have objected to being ordained, or his brethren may have objected, on account of his levity in conversation. Out of the pulpit, he would keep a company in a roar of laughter for hours, with his anecdotes which he gathered while he was in the war of 1813. John Taylor is accredited for having said of him on one occasion: "When I see Suggett in the pulpit, I think he ought never to come out of it, and when I see him out of it, I think he ought never to go into it."
In 1810, he was ordained pastor of Stamping Ground church. There he preached three years with good success, serving Great Crossing church, of which he was the third pastor, during the same period. About 1820, he was again called to Stamping Ground, where he labored acceptably five years. Meanwhile, he served Old Clear Creek church, Woodford
county, two years. In 1825, he moved to Missouri, where he spent the remainder of his earthly life.
An incident in the life of James Suggett may be related for the benefit of preachers who are inclined to a want of earnestness in the Christian life.
On a Summer night he was preaching in an old open house on the bank of Elkhorn river. The house was crowded. The night was intensely dark, and a terrific thunder storm was raging. Mr. Suggett was picturing, with thrilling vividness, the awful scene of the final judgment. The minds of the people were wrought up to the highest tension, when suddenly a bright light gleamed through all the chinks of the old house they were worshipping in. The congregation rose with one impulse of awful fear, and a loud choral shriek rent the air. There was a young woman, a sister of the preacher, in the congregation. She sprang to Mr. Suggett, laid hold of him, and cried out, "Oh, James, the judgment has come, and I am unprepared. I shall go to an awful hell, and you are the cause of it. Why did you not tell me of this?" he replied: "Why, my dear sister, have I not preached to you, and warned you to prepare for the judgment, a hundred times?" "Oh, yes," said she, "but I thought you were joking. I did not know you meant it. If I had been in your place, and had seen your condition as you must have seen mine, I would have laid hold of you and never let you go till I brought you to the feet of Jesus." The light that caused the alarm was presently discovered to be from an old barn, near by, which had been set on fire by the lightning.
SAMUEL TROTT was called to the care of Stamping Ground church in 1817. He was an educated man, and taught school while he served this church. He was from some of the New England States. When he left Stamping Ground, he went to Dry Run church, in Scott county, about the year 1819. He remained there about two years. In 1820, he made a motion, in Licking Association, that the churches of that body should change their distinctive appellation from United Baptists to Particular Baptists. His argument in favor of the motion was, that they believed in "particular redemption, particular election, and particular calling; and, therefore, the proposed name would better express their belief." The motion prevailed, and this "Yankee school master" has the honor of naming the
only "Particular Baptist" Association on the western continent. He was but a moderate preacher. H e was clerk of Licking Association, in 1819, and the year following. About this time, it is believed, he moved to Maryland, where he was living a few years ago.
THEODRICK BOULWARE was the sixth pastor of Stamping Ground church. He was a preacher of decided ability, a man of strong practical sense and good reading, and a sound theologian. He labored with a good degree of success in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky, about seventeen years, when he moved west.
Theodrick Boulware was the son of Richard Boulware, of Irish extraction. His mother, Esther Ramsey, was of English extraction, and was raised an Episcopalian. But both his parents became Baptists under the ministry of Theodrick Noel, after whom their son was named. They raised two daughters and four sons. The names of the latter were, Mordecai, Richard, Theodrick, and Ramsey. Mordecai and Theodrick became preachers. The latter was born in Essex county, Va., November 13, 1780. His parents moved to Kentucky, and settled at Craig's station, near Gilbert's Creek church, of Separate Baptists, in what is now Garrard county, in 1780. At about ten years of age, Theodrick was convinced that he was a condemned sinner, and needed to be converted, by the pious conversation of his parents and their religious friends. Soon afterwards he professed religion, and was baptized, probably by Joseph Bledsoe, into the fellowship of Gilbert's Creek church. About this time, his parents moved to Franklin county, and he, with them, united with Forks of Elkhorn, then under the pastoral charge of the famous William Hickman.
For about ten years after young Boulware's baptism, he was much troubled with doubts as to the genuineness of his conversion; but he read much, and diligently improved all opportunities for learning, and was finally established in the faith, and greatly comforted. This was during the revival of 1800-3. When he became established in the gospel, he laid down the following principles as the foundation of his theology:
1. God and his purposes are eternal and unchangeable.
2. God will do all he purposed, nothing more, nothing less.
3. God will not be hurried, and cannot be hindered.
4. The salvation of the sinner, and [the] creation of the world are equally the work of God, the sinner having no agency in either.
His father having been killed by the fall of a horse, in 1795, the care of the family fell on young Boulware. But such was his energy and thirst for learning, that he found opportunity to teach school for a time, then attend a grammar school, kept by Elder John Price, and finally to attend a "Religious Polemical Society," instituted by Elder John Gano.
April 17, 1808, Mr. Boulware was married to Susan W. Kelly, and, on beginning housekeeping, the next year, he laid down the following rules, his wife concurring, for their domestic government
1. Read the scriptures and worship God in our family.
2. Use regular industry, and prudent economy.
3. Never deal on credit, nor go into debt, except from unavoidable necessity.
4. Make expenses less than our regular profits.
5. Keep a regular book of both profit and expenses; and, in all our transactions with the world, to act honestly, undecepitively, not defrauding, nor cheating any one, no, not an ignorant negro.
Soon after his marriage, he moved his church-membership to North Fork, in the same county, of which John Ficklin was pastor. He was soon licensed to preach, and, in July, 1812, was ordained to the ministry by William Hickman, James Suggett, and John Ficklin. Soon after his ordination, he was called to the church at Georgetown, where he served as pastor seven years. Besides his brief pastorate at Stamping Ground, he served the churches at Buck Run, Big Spring, North Elkhorn, and Clear Creek, and, for about three years, preached once a month to the convicts in the State prison. He was called to Cincinnati, and offered a salary of $900 -- quite a large salary at that time -- but declined, because he did not wish to raise his children in a city.
In 1827, when he was among the ablest and most popular preachers in Kentucky, he resigned all his charges, and moved to Missouri, settling in Calloway county. Here he labored in harmony with Longan, Suggett, Vardeman and others, till about 1843, when a separation took place among the Baptists of that
region, on the subject of missionary operations. Mr. Boulware identified, himself with the Anti-missionary faction. He lived to an advanced age, and died a few years past, while on a visit to relations in Kentucky.
SILAS MERCER NOEL was the son of Theodrick Noel, a distinguished Baptist preacher in the Old Dominion, in the early days of Baptist operations in that State, and was born in Henrico county, Va., August 13, 1783. His father gave him a good English education, after which he educated himself in the classical languages, and then studied law. He emigrated to Kentucky and established himself in the practice of his profession, at Frankfort. He professed conversion, probably as early as 1810, and was baptized by William Hickman, pastor of Forks of Elkhorn church. Soon after his union with the church, he was licensed "to exercise a preaching gift," and, about 1813, was ordained to the pastoral care of Big Spring church, in Woodford county, which was constituted that year. He continued pastor of this church one year.
Mr. Noel was a man of fine culture, of broad views, of active enterprise, and enlarged public spirit. As soon as he entered the work of the ministry, his active mind began to inquire into the wants of the Baptists of the State. In 1813, he commenced the publication of a religious monthly magazine, called the Gospel Herald.6 In the first number of this periodical, he advocated the establishment of a "General Committee," among the Baptists of Kentucky, in which the whole Baptist denomination in the State, might be represented and thereby secure unity and harmony of action in promoting schemes of benevolence, especially home and foreign missions. Without entering into particulars here, it is sufficient to say, in this place, that the proposed "General Committee" was intended to answer similar ends to those now promoted by the General Association of Kentucky Baptists. The measure would have been a wise one, if the Baptists of Kentucky, had been prepared to adopt it and carry out its purposes; but they were not, and the movement had to be
postponed about nineteen years. Mr. Noel, however, lived to see his measure carried into successful operation in the General Association.
In 1812, Mr. Noel and Jeremiah Vardeman proposed to publish "a comprehensive History of the Baptist Society.7 How far this work progressed is not known. About 1816, Mr. Noel was appointed by Gov. Slaughter, Judge of the Circuit Court. In filling this office, he abandoned the work of the ministry, for a time. John Taylor speaks of him at this period as follows: "Mr. Noel sometime after this relinquished the pastoral charge at Big Spring, though he preached for them sometime after this. He at length took a letter of dismission, and joined the church at Frankfort, after which being appointed circuit judge, for a season he desisted from preaching, and resumed the practice of law to which he had been bred. He forebore the sacred office of gospel minister, about two years, being very unhappy in this lapsed state. About one year past, he cameforward again as a preacher, with more zeal, consistency and apparent stability than at any time of his life, before, and is now one of our first-rate Baptist preachers in Kentucky, and has lately taken the pastoral care of the Baptist church in Frankfort."8 Speaking of him at a later period the same author says: "Silas M. Noel . . . is now a great traveler and one of the most successful preachers the Baptists have in Kentucky. . . . For three years past I suppose he has baptized more people than any other man in Kentucky. His labors seem blessed in whatever direction he takes. The conversion of sinners to the Lord seems to, be the greatest object of his address to men. Repentance and faith, or faith and repentance, connected with a godly life, is the main drift of his discourses, with profuse invitations to everyone to come to the Supper. Speculative trifles are barely found in his exhibitions.
"The high powers of Lexington, authorized to make doctors of Divinity, a year or two back saluted him with a flowing diploma. But it is pleasing to gee that these high flying trifles do not prevent his going into thickets; or, according to his own term, while at his work, the highways and hedges, to invite the
poor, the halt, the blind and lame, with every other soul to seek the salvation of God."9
In 1827, Mr. Noel accepted a call to Stamping Ground, where he labored but a short time. The next year he took charge of Great Crossing church. Here his success was remarkable. Within one year he baptized into its fellowship 159 persons. Among them were seventeen Indians from Choctaw Academy at Blue Springs. At least one of these Indians, Sampson Birch, was afterward ordained to the ministry.
During the two or three years that followed this large ingathering at Great Crossing, the Campbellite excitement was at fever heat. The discussion partook largely of the popular feeling, but also brought into the arena of newspaper warfare, the ablest men on both sides of the question. Among them Silas M. Noel stood in the front rank on the Baptist side, and while he was not the equal of William Vaughan in the pulpit, he was decidedly his superior with the pen, and, with this he entered largely into the discussions, through the press, while Vaughan was in the lead on the rostrum. Out of a membership of 558, Great Crossing lost only sixteen by the Campbellite schism.
Mr. Noel probably served some other country churches, at different periods. In 1836, he accepted a call to the church in Lexington. Here he served acceptably about three years, when he was called up higher, May 5, 1839.
In his early life, Mr. Noel was somewhat perplexed on the subject of church government, and probably inclined to the Presbyterian, but after a few years, became fully settled in that of the Baptists. He, however, felt the need of some general organization, through which the denomination, at least, over the extent of the State, could act in harmony. Hence his proposal for a general committee, in 1813. He established, in that year, the Gospel Herald, a denominational monthly Magazine, by means of which the Baptists of the State could have intercommunion of sentiments. But this was soon discontinued for want of patronage. He was very active in originating Georgetown College, especially for the educating of young preachers. He was a member and President of its Board of Trustees, was instrumental in securing the Paulding fund, and
subscribed $500 to the college endowment. He was a leading spirit in organizing the Kentucky Baptist State Convention, in 1832, of which he was Moderator during its existence. The Baptists of Kentucky owe much, under God, to this good and great man.
JAMES D. BLACK was the most successful pastor Stamping Ground has ever had. He was called to that position, in January, 1838, and resigned it in March, 1867, in these words “I hereby resign the charge of your church, which I have had for thirty years. Brethren, be careful, and do not fall out by the way.” He was among the most zealous, energetic, faithful, and successful preachers, that ever labored among the Baptists of Kentucky.
James D. Black was born in Virginia, June 24, 1794. He came with his parents to Kentucky, in 1807. His early education was very limited. He was converted to God, at the age of about fifteen years, and was baptized into the fellowship of Dry Run church in Scott county, by Joseph Redding. He was raised up to the ministry, in Long Lick church in Scott county. He was pastor, at different times, of some sixteen churches in Kentucky, besides preaching to several in Missouri, while residing in that State. He was a student and a laborer. He went to school, and was in a grammar class with his son, E.H. Black, when he was past forty years of age, and, by the aid of a Greek grammar, learned to read the New Testament in Greek, after he was fifty.
He was laboring in a series of revivals, during a great portion of his ministry. He served one year as a missionary of Elkhorn Association. At the close of the year, he made the following report: “During the year, your agent has attended twenty protracted meetings, 323 have been received for baptism, at those meetings. He has baptized 261, himself, chiefly at the churches of his charge. He has preached 351 discourses, and has been engaged 121 days in actual service to this Association.”He baptized about 500 in one year. During his pastorate at Stamping Ground, he baptized over 1,000 into the fellowship of that church. He kept no account of the number he baptized during his ministry, but said, during his last illness, he could not think he had immersed less than 5,000.
He quitted the scenes of his labors, May 30, 1871. His last words were, "Jesus! Oh my son, how precious." His remains lie beneath where stood the old pulpit which he occupied so long and successfully at Stamping Ground. That he was a good man, many living witnesses testify; that he was a great man, his works bear record.
FORKS OF LICKING church is located in Falmouth, the county seat of Pendleton, and is now called by the name of that village. It was probably gathered by Alexander Monroe, and was formed, in part, of persons who had been dismissed from Bryants church in Fayette county. The constitution was effected on the 4th Saturday in June, 1795. The church united with Elkhorn Association, in August of the same year, at which time it reported eighteen members. In 1802, it numbered fifty-four members, and, the next year, entered into the constitution of North Bend Association. This was just at the close of the great revival. From this period the church declined, tis 1812, when it numbered only twelve members. In 1817, it took a letter of dismission, and joined Union Association, of which it still remains a member. It appears to have been under the pastoral care of Alexander Monroe, from the time of its constitution, till about 1825, when he was succeeded by Blackstone L. Abernathy. Under the ministry of the latter, it had an increase of sixty-one members, in 1827. But, in 1830, Mr. Abernathy went off with the Campbellites, and, of course, carried a large proportion of the members with him. In 1831, William Vaughan took charge of the remnant of the church, and ministered to it one year. Since that period it has had a large number of pastors, among whom may be named Robert Elrod, Thomas Waggoner (who was raised up to the ministry among its members), James Spillman, Gilbert Mason, Fergus German, J. R. Barbee, A.W. Mullins, George Varden, N. C. Pettit, and Robert E. Kirtley. In 1872, the church took the name of Falmouth, and, in 1880, numbered 163 members. The widely known P. S. G. Watson was licensed to preach by this church.
ALEXANDER MONROE is supposed to have been pastor of Forks of Licking church, about 30 years. He emigrated, probably from Virginia, to Kentucky, as early as 1789, at which date he united, by letter, with Bryants church in Fayette county. The following year he was encouraged to exercise his
gift, and, in August, 1791, was licensed to preach. On the 17th of August, 1793, he was ordained to the full work of the gospel ministry, by Ambrose Dudley, John Price, and William Edmund Waller. In 1795, he moved to theForks of Licking river, and went into the constitution of Forks of Licking church. To what other congregations he ministered, does not appear. But he was one of the most prominent ministers in North Bend Association, during its early history, having served that body as moderator six years, and preached the introductory sermon be fore it on several occasions.
OTTER CREEK church first appears on the minutes of Tates Creek Association, in 1795, and was probably constituted during that year. It was located on a small stream from which it derived its name, in Madison county. In 1796, it numbered 80 members, and, for a number of years, was a prominent church in Tates Creek Association. In 1829, it reached a membership of 124; but it was so reduced by the Campbellite schism, the following year, that it was shortly afterwards dissolved.
Of the five churches gathered in Kentucky, in 1795, Otter Creek and Blue Ash were destroyed by the Campbellite schism, while Cartwright's Creek, McConnel's Run, and Forks of Licking, still exist under the names of Lebanon, Stamping Ground and Falmouth. ____________________
1 This was probably the church gathered by Jame sLee, spoken of in the preceding chapter.
2 Carter Tarrant's History of the Emancipation Movement in Kentucky, p. 13.
3 Personal recollections of Abrams Lewis.
4 To the Author.
5 This particular of the proceeding is stated on the authority of Elder Thomas P. Dudley.
6 This was not, as Dr. Ford supposes, the first religious periodical published in Kentucky. I have before me a complete volume of the Kentucky Missionary, and Theological Magazine, a quarterly edited by Stark Dupuy, and published at Frankfort, Ky. The first number was issued, May, 1812.
7 Minutes of South District Association of 1812.
8 History of Ten Churches, p. 186.
9 History of Ten Churches, p. 187, 188.
[John Henderson Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists, 1885; rpt. CHR&A, 1984. - jrd]
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