Bracken Association and Ten Churches Constituted in 1799
At the beginning of the year 1799, the Kentuckians were still in a state of considerable excitement. The convention which was to meet at Frankfort, on the 22d of July, for the purpose of forming a new constitution for the State, was to decide the vexed question as to whether the property of the people was to be made secure to them, or jeopardized by constitutional enactment. The election was to be held in the spring, when the political status of the convention would be measurably determined. Popular meetings, were held, in February, in various parts of the State, some in favor of, and some in opposition to, the perpetuation of slavery by constitutional enactment. Henry Clay was the leader, or at least, orator of the anti-slavery party. A meeting was appointed in which each religious denomination in the State was to be represented by two members, for the purpose of ascertaining the religious convictions of the people on the subject of slavery. The election, however, indicated that a large majority of the people favored the continuance of slavery in the commonwealth. The convention finished the work of forming a constitution on the 17th of August, and enacted that it should be in force on and after the first day of June, 1800.
During the year, friendly intercourse was established between the governments of the United States and France, by means of which a treaty, satisfactory to both countries was entered into the following year. All causes of popular agitation seems now to have been removed, and the commonwealth was in a condition to enjoy full peace. The spiritual dearth still continued. The baptisms during the year may be fairly estimated at 175. The meetings of the associations evinced nothing of the spirit of enterprise or progress. Elkhorn had had under
consideration the propriety of having a catechism selected or prepared for the use of children, but this year the churches having expressed diverse opinions about the propriety of it, the subject was dropped. An inquiry as to whether persons who had been excluded from the churches for embracing Universalism, might be restored without an utter renunciation of that heresy, was answered in the negative. The churches were advised to be cautious about encouraging strange preachers who could not exhibit credentials and a fair character. Salem advised "the churches to be very cautious about restoring excommunicated ministers to their former standing." These cautions were probably provoked by South Kentucky Association of Separate Baptists having recommended the churches in her body to restore such persons to membership as had been excluded for holding the doctrine of universal restoration.
Bracken Association was constituted of eight churches, aggregating a membership of 539, on Saturday, the 28th of May, of this year (1799). Among these churches were Washington, Stone Lick, Mayslick, Bracken and Lees Creek. There was still some fruits of the recent revival being gathered into the churches of this little new fraternity.
A few churches were constituted during the year in various new settlements in the State.
FLAT LICK church is the oldest in Pulaski county. It is located ten miles north-east from Somerset, the county seat. It was constituted of nine members, on the fourth Saturday in January, 1799. Among its early members were Thomas Hansford, James Fears, Elijah Barnes, John James and Charles Westerman. The first three of these were preachers. The church united with Tates Creek Association, the same year it was constituted, at which time it numbered eighteen members. James Fears was chosen pastor. This was just at the beginning of the great revival. In one year, Flat Lick rose from twentyone to 106 members, in 1801. But in consequence of its sending out colonies to form other churches in the surrounding country, it was reduced to forty-seven members, in 1806. In 1812, it numbered seventy-four, but, in 1825, it had been again reduced to fifty. From this time it had a healthful growth, under the pastoral care of Stephen Collier. At the time of his resignation, in 1843, the church numbered 173 members. It
has since had some reverses, but has continued to be a leading church in Cumberland River Association, from the time it entered into the constitution of that fraternity, in 1809, to the present time.
Of James Fears little else is now known than that he was in the constitution of Flat Lick church, and that he was its pastor a few years. Of Stephen Collier, the second pastor, something has already been said.
JOSEPH MARTIN JAMES, the third pastor of Flat Lick church was the son of Baptist parents. His father, John James, was in the constitution of Flat Lick church. He was a valuable church member, and lived to a good old age. He raised four sons and four daughters. Of the latter, Elizabeth was the first wife of the distinguished Jeremiah Vardeman. Of the sons, J. M. and Daniel became Baptist preachers.
Joseph M. James was born in Culpeper county, Va., about 1784. He came with his parents to Kentucky, about 1994, who first settled near Crab Orchard, in Lincoln county, but in 1798, moved to Pulaski county. Here their son Joseph, grew up to manhood. He was illiterate in his youth, but having a strong, active mind, and great energy of character, he made considerable attainments in general knowledge. He professed faith in Christ about 1820, and was baptizedinto the fellowship of Flat Lick church by Elijah Barnes. He commenced exercising in public prayer and exhortation, soon after he joined the church. He improved rapidly in speaking, and was soon ordained to the ministry. He became pastor of Somerset (formerly Sinking Creek), New Hope, Rock Lick, Mt. Olivet, and, at a later period, Flat Lick churches. For a number of years he was probably the ablest preacher in Cumberland River Association. But alas for the frailty of human nature! In his old age he yielded to the seductions of strong drink, and was disgraced. This led on further to the heinous crime of adultery. The poor old man became an outcast, and his sun went down in a dark cloud, about 1849.
DANIEL F. JAMES, son of John James, was born in Lincoln county, Ky, in 1795. He was carried by his parents to Pulaski county, where he joined Flat Lick church, in his youth. He was in the battle at New Orleans, January 8, 1815. Some years after this, he was ordained to the ministry. He was pastor of
Double Springs church in Lincoln county, and some others. He was probably never the regular pastor of Flat Lick church, yet his labors for its prosperity, his constant, cheerful and devoted piety did much to build it up, and perhaps no member or pastor of this old fraternity, was ever more warmly loved or highly respected by the whole community, than was this eminently godly man. He died, at his home in Pulaski county, Dec. 1, 1871. His oldest son, A. J. James, was many years a prominent lawyer in Frankfort, Ky.
ROBERT McALISTER succeeded J. M. James in the pastoral care of Flat Lick church. He was born in Rockbridge county, Va., March 5th, 1782. His father, Joseph McAlister, was a tailor by trade, and was of Irish extraction. He moved with his family to Lincoln county, Kentucky, about 1790. There the old revolutionary soldier -- for such he was -- added farming to the occupation of a tailor. He ploughed his little field in spring and summer, and made clothing of buckskin for the settlers in the fall and winter, occasionally varying his occupation by engaging in Indian fighting. After living a few years in Lincoln, he moved to Pulaski county. He was a Presbyterian, and lived to a good old age. He raised six sons and one daughter. The latter became the wife of the talented, but erratic Joseph Martin James, and mother of that eminently Godly minister John James, so well known among the Baptists of Kentucky.
Robert McAlister was raised up in the wilds of the new country, with very little education. However, he learned to read and write, and made good use of these acquirements in after years, more especially in reading the word of God. At the age of twenty-four years he married Rachel McKenzie, the daughter of a widow. He, with his wife, was baptized into the fellowship of Rock Lick church in Pulaski county, by J. M. James, about the year 1823. Soon after this he moved his membership to Flat Lick, where he presently began to preach with great zeal. He was ordained by Joseph M. James and Stephen Collier, and was called to the care of New Hope, and afterwards to that of Flat Lick church. To these he preached till the Master called him up higher. He was a preacher of moderate ability, but he used his talent well, and the Lord greatly blessed his labors. About 1850, he had a light attack
of flux, but riding to Somerset and back on a very warm day before he had fully recovered, he took a relapse and died in a few days. Mr. McAlister raised six daughters and five sons, all of whom became Baptists, except his son Martin G., who became a Campbellite preacher and died young of cholera.
JOHN JAMES was the son of J. M. James, and was probably brought into the ministry at Flat Lick church. Of this church of his fathers, he was pastor after the death of Robert McAlister. Afterwards, he moved to Columbia, in Adair county, and was many years pastor of the church in that village. About 1872, he moved into the bounds of Liberty Association, and preached several years to some country churches in Hart and Barren counties. From there he moved to Paris, Texas, where he remained, preaching to the church in that village two or three years. At present (1885) he is in the State of Missouri. Mr. James was educated, it is believed, at Georgetown College. He is well versed in the sacred scriptures, and is familiar with New Testament Greek. He is peculiarly devoted to his holy calling; all his powers seem to be perpetually absorbed in the great work of preaching the gospel. He is an excellent preacher and a man of spotless purity of character.
SOMERSET church, (originally called Sinking Creek) is located in the town from which it derives its present name, in Pulaski county. It was the second church organized in that large county, and was constituted of twenty-one members by Isaac Newland, Peter Woods, Henry Brooks and John Turner, June 8th, 1798. It united with Tates Creek Association the following October, when it reported twenty-eight members. During the revival of 1801, it enjoyed a precious season, and its membership increased to one hundred Thomas Hansford was its first pastor, and under his ministry it enjoyed peace and prosperity. In 1812 it numbered one hundred and nine members, and in 1823, one hundred and sixty-five. It entered into the constitution of Cumberland River Association in 1809, and remained a member of that body till after the formation of South Kentucky Association of United Baptists. It united with that body some years past. About 1850 this church divided on the subject of benevolent societies. Those opposing such organizations formed Pitman’s Creek church, in the same county. The affair finally got into the Cumberland River Association, and
divided that old fraternity. From tries resulted Cumberland River Association, No. 2, of Antimissionary baptists in 1861.
In 1879, Somerset church numbered one hundred members. It now has nearly completed a good brick house of worship. Green Clay Smith was its pastor in 1882.
THOMAS HANSFORD, the first pastor of this church, was an early settler in Pulaski county. He went into the constitution of Flat Lick church the 4th Saturday in January, 1799. On the 8th of June of the same year he went into the constitution of Sinking Creek, and became its pastor. After remaining in this position a number of years, he moved to Wayne county, and became pastor of the church of Monticello. In his old age he imagined himself slighted and neglected by some of the younger brethren in this church. Earnest efforts were made to remove his grievances, but all in vain. He still insisted that he was illy treated, and, as a dernier resort to obtain satisfaction, joined the Campbellites. He was a plain, illiterate old preacher of excellent character. Among the early settlers of Pulaski and the southern part of Lincoln county he was held in high esteem, and accomplished much good in laying the foundation of the early churches of that region. Under his preaching, the famous Jeremiah Vardeman was reclaimed from his backsliding, and brought into the ministry. He was the first moderator of Cumberland River Association, and filled that position several years at a later period.
DANIEL BUCKNER was the most distinguished pastor of Somerset church during its early history. He was the son of Henry Buckner, and was born in Lawrence district, S.C., September 30th, 1801. In 1807, he was brought by his parents to Cocke county, East Tennessee. Here he grew up on a farm. He professed conversion in his fifteenth year, and walked twelve miles to join Lick Creek Baptist church, when he was baptized by Caleb Witt. Soon afterwards, he joined Big Pigeon church in the same county. In 1818, he married Mary Hampton. He was licensed to exercise a gift in 1823, and was ordained to the ministry, at Chestua church, in Monroe county, by George Snider and James D. Sewell in 1827. While laboring with Chestua church that year, there was a continual revival, and a large number was baptized. He was the first Baptist that preached in Madisonville the county seat of Monroe. Here he, with the
help of George Snider, constituted a church, to which he ministered seven years. The first protracted meeting he held there, twenty-five were added to the church by baptism. Of these, five became preachers, among whom were Bradley Kimbrough, Samuel Henderson, since editor of the Southwestern Baptist in Alabama, and Henry F. Buckner, long missionary to the Creek Indians.
Mr. Buckner also gathered Ebenezer church soon after that of Madisonville, and in the same county, and was pastor of it seven years. He preached to the church at Jellico Plain, in Monroe county, several years. About 1831, heaccepted a call to Zion Hill church, in McMinn county. This church bought him a fine horse and a small farm. For the latter they paid $400. At Zion Hill he baptized about one hundred the first year. From this place he went to Big Spring church on Mouse creek. D. D. Cate says, in Borum's Sketches: "About this time he received an appointment by the State Baptist Convention to travel in East Tennessee as missionary and agent at $15 per month. His first appointment kept him from home two and a half months. Such was the opposition to the enterprise at that time, that some would not allow him to preach in the church, and he was compelled to preach in the grove, school house or family room. But seldom could he get a brother to take the hat around for collection. In that event, he did it himself. He was the first to introduce the missionary leaven in seventeen counties in East Tennessee."
Soon after his return from his first trip, the church at Big Spring preferred a charge against him for joining the State Baptist Convention, and [on his] refusing to withdraw, excluded him. The Sweetwater (anti-missionary) Association, at the request of this church, published him in their minutes for withholding his credentials. He applied to the church for a copy of the charge, presented it to Conesauga church, and was received on it as if a letter of dismission.
After this, he moved to Washington county, and preached with excellent success about eighteen months. From here he moved to Cleveland in Bradley county. He and his brother, Burrow Buckner, constituted the church at this place.
In 1839, he accepted a call to the Somerset church in Pulaski county, Kentucky. To this point he moved and served
this church fifteen years, during which he baptized into its fellowship two hundred and fifty persons. He was, during the same time, pastor of other churches in the country. About 1855, he moved near Perryville in Boyle county, when he took charge of the church in that village and some country churches. He was well sustained here for about six years, which he regarded the happiest period of his life. But his youngest son, Robert C. Buckner, had moved to Texas, and the parents could not feel happy in his absence. Having resigned his charges, he started to join his son in the far West. In the summer of 1861, in the 60th year of his age, he put his family in a wagon, which he himself drove and started on a journey of 900 miles. When within 36 miles of his destination, his wife became too sick to travel. On the ninth day of her illness, and on the 60th anniversary of his birth, she passed away from earth. Soon after his arrival in Texas, he accepted a call to the church at Boston in Bowie county. Here he remained about four years, and baptized about one hundred persons. In 1865, he married a second wife and moved to Paris, in Lamar county, where he resided till a short time before his recent death, at the house of his son, Rev. R. C. Buckner, in Dallas, Texas.
Mr. Buckner was a successful revivalist. During his ministry, he baptized more than two thousand five hundred persons, twenty-five of whom became preachers. Two of his sons, Henry F. Buckner, missionary to the Creek Indians, and Robert C. Buckner, editor of the Baptist Herald, Texas, are distinguished ministers. A.J. Holt, missionary to the wild tribes of Indians, is a grandson of his.
FOUR MILE church is located in Campbell county. Its history is confused, like that of many others of the early churches, by the changing of its name, failing to have its location specified in the early associational record, and by there being a number of churches of the same name, in various parts of the State. In Manley's Annals, (a most valuable record), the name of a church printed "Russell's Creek" in one place, and "Ruperts Creek" in another, appears to have applied to the church since called Four Mile. It united with Elkhorn Association in 1799. At this period, it numbered fifteen members. It appears to have united with Bracken Association the same fall, or the year following. In 1812, according to Benedict, it was a member of
North Bend Association, had John Stephens for its preacher, and numbered fifty members. In 1827, it united with other churches in forming Campbell County Association. In 1843, it numbered ninety-two. In 1876, it was not represented in its association, but appeared to still have an existence.
ELK LICK church is located in Scott county. It was constituted in 1799, and united with Elkhorn Association the same year. At this time it numbered six members. In 1801, it received twenty-nine by baptism, which brought its membership up to forty. In 1809, it entered into the constitution of Licking Association, at which time it numbered about thirty-three members. In 1818, it enjoyed a refreshing from the Lord, when twenty-seven were baptized into its fellowship. This gave it a total membership of fifty-nine. This was its maximum. At two subsequent periods it reached the same number, the last in 1843. Since that time it has gradually declined. In 1876, it numbered thirty-nine members. That it belongs to Licking Association is sufficient evidence of its opposition to all benevolent societies.
FOURTEEN MILE, (now Charleston) church, was received into Salem Association in 1799. It was, at first, located on a small stream called Fourteen Mile creek, in what was then Knox county in the Illinois grant, but now Clark county, Indiana. Although this church is not in Kentucky, it was planted and nurtured by Kentucky preachers, was a number of years connected with associations in that State, and may, therefore, have brief mention in the historyof Kentucky Baptists. Besides, it was the first organization of the kind, established on the soil of the present great State of Indiana.
It was constituted of two men and their wives, John and Sophia Fislar, and John and Cattern Pettit-by Isaac Edwards, November 22, 1798. William Kellar attended the first meeting of the church. In 1802, James Abbot was chosen its first pastor. Feet washing and communion were appointed for a subsequent meeting. But the brethren receiving "considerable light on the 13th chapter of John," feet washing was deferred, and perhaps never attended to in that church. Mr. Abbot served the church, as pastor, from March till December, 1802, when he was excluded from its fellowship for "the heinous and abominable crime of falsehood." In August, 1799, Henson Hobbs was received by letter, and, in the following September,
was chosen Elder. In 1803, the church moved its location, and changed its name to "Silver Creek." The same year, it entered into the constitution of Long Run Association (Kentucky), at which time it numbered 47 members. In July 1803, the church petitioned Plum Creek (now Buck Creek) church in Kentucky, to supply them with preaching, whereupon that church agreed to send William McCoy and George Waller to preach to them. In 1812, Silver Creek church, with eight others, entered into the constitution of Silver Creek Association in its own State, after which it had no direct connection with Kentucky Baptists. Since that period, it has had various fortunes and misfortunes. For about thirty years, it was the largest and most flourishing church, of any kind, in Clark county. But, in 1829, a majority of the church was carried off by the Campbellite schism, and, in 1834, the remnant of the church was divided by Parkerism, the missionary party consisting only of five members. These persevered, and succeeded in building up again. The church is, at present, located in Charleston, the county seat of Clark, and bears the name of that village. W. T. Gordon, late of Kentucky, was its pastor in 1881.
HENSON HOBBS began his ministry, as a licentiate, in Fourteen-Mile church. He was of a family of Hobbses that settled very early in Nelson county, Kentucky, and was born about 1772. The place of his birth, or at what time he moved west, is not known. In 1799, he moved from Kentucky (as is supposed) to what is now Clark county, Indiana, and united with the church described above. Of this church he was appointed an Elder, in September of that year. He was there licensed to preach, August 30, 1800. For a time, he supplied this little church with preaching, then moved back to Kentucky, and settled near Long Run church, in Jefferson county. Of this church he became a member, and here he was ordained to the ministry, in 1802. During this year, South Long Run church was constituted, and Mr. Hobbs became its pastor, and served it about 19 years. He was also pastor of Cane and Back Run, and probably some other churches. He was the first Baptist preacher who filledregular appointments in Louisville. In this village he preached a considerable time, and constituted, of 22 members, in 1815, the first Baptist church planted there. Of this church he was pastor seven years. In 1815, Long Run
Association organized a missionary board for the purpose of sending missionaries to preach "on our frontiers." Under an appointment of this board, Mr. Hobbs went to Missouri Territory, and spent some months in preaching. He took with him a lad named John Holland, then a young professor, who afterwards became an able preacher.
Henson Hobbs was one of the most active and useful preachers of his generation, in Long Run Association. The following extract from the Minutes of that body for 1821, shows the esteem in which he was held: "With sensations of sorrow, yet, we hope, with Christian resignation, we record the death of Brother Henson Hobbs, who departed this life on the 14th day of August last, in the 49th year of his age. He was 23 years a zealous and successful preacher, lived beloved and died lamented by an extensive circle of pious brethren and acquaintances."
EDDY GROVE church was the oldest body of the kind in that portion of the State lying west of the Henderson and Nashville Rail Road. It was located in Caldwell county, and was constituted in 1799. Like the other early churches in southern Kentucky, it was probably a member successively of Mero District, Cumberland, and Red River Associations. In 1812, it was a member of the latter, had Daniel Brown for its preacher, and numbered 137 members. Of the 36 churches (about half of which were in Tennessee) which composed Red River Association, at that period, and which aggregated a membership of 2,382, only two were larger than Eddy Grove. There was an extensive revival in the Cumberland Valley this year. About 900 were added to the churches of Red River Association, and a number of new churches were formed. It was thought expedient to divide the Association. Accordingly the more western churches were embodied in a new fraternity, styled Little River Association. Eddy Grove became a member of this body. In 1825, the Association met with this church. At that time it numbered only 39 members, and had the Venerable James Rucker for its preacher. In 1827-8, it enjoyed a revival under the ministry of William Buckley, and its membership was increased to 51. But it again declined gradually, and, about 1833, its name disappears from all available records. 1
JAMES RUCKER was quite an old man when he moved to Caldwell county, and became a member of Eddy Grove church. He was a preacher in Virginia during the period in which Baptists suffered much for conscience' sake. What share he had in those persecutions is now unknown. After filling the pastoral office for a time in his native State, he moved to Woodford county, Kentucky, about the year 1785, and united with South Elkhorn, the first church organized on the north side of Kentucky river, and, at that time, under the pastoral care of Lewis Craig. In the winter and spring of that year, he labored with John Taylor, Lewis Craig, George Stokes Smith, and John Dupuy in the first religious revival that is known to have occurred in Kentucky. About 40 persons were converted. In April, according to John Taylor, Clear Creek church was constituted in Woodford county. This was the second church organized on the north side of Kentucky river. This church, except for a short time near its beginning, had no pastor for many years. Mr. Rucker, who was in the constitution, served it as a preacher, in conjunction with John Taylor, John Dupuy, Richard Cave and John Tanner, until about 1796. About this date, he and John Tanner, who had married his daughter, came to the conclusion that the Baptists in Kentucky had become corrupt in doctrine and discipline. Accordingly they withdrew from Clear Creek, and constituted, of ten members, a "Reformed Baptist church," on Salt river, in what is now Anderson county. In about two years, this particularly pure and sound church was rent to fragments by internal dissensions, and, like Jonah's gourd, came to naught. Mr. Rucker returned to Clear Creek church. But, being mortified by his failure, or having lost his influence in the church by inveighing against its doctrine and practice, he moved to Caldwell county, and became a member of Eddy Grove church, not far from the beginning of the present century. Here the good and respectable old man lived to a great age. He probably died about the year 1828.
BLUE SPRING church is located in Metcalf county, and was constituted in 1799. The original name of this church was Mud Camp. Under this title it joined in the constitution of Green River Association, in 1800, and, in 1802, reported to that body a membership of 41. Henry Miller was a licensed preacher in this church, at that time. It was in this church
that an attempt was made in 1801, to restore Robert Smith to the ministry. The effort probably failed. William Ratliff was the first pastor of this church, of which there is any account. The served it till his death, which occurred not far from 1815. He was succeeded by Daniel Shirley, who served till 1823, when he died. Ralph Petty succeeded him, and served the church, with much acceptance, many years.
In 1845, this church divided on the subject of missions. The Anti-missionary party remained under the pastoral care of Mr. Petty, till his death, after which it wasted away and became extinct. The Missionary party, consisting of 32 members, united with Liberty Association. It has had a slow growth, and has continued to be a rather small church. In 1878, it numbered 57 members.
RALPH PETTY was the most distinguished of the early pastors of Blue Spring church. He was born in Virginia, December 27, 1767. His parents moved to Ohio, and settled near Cincinnati. Here he was raised up, and, inyoung manhood, married Isabell, daughter of James McClure of Hamilton county, Ohio. Mr. McClure was afterwards killed by an Indian, while standing in his yard, in Bourbon county, Kentucky, where he had settled, after the marriage of his daughter to Mr. Petty. Mr. Petty also moved to Kentucky, and settled in Bourbon county. Here, during the great revival, in 1801, he obtained hope in Christ, and was baptized.
In 1802, he moved to Barren county, and settled on Fallen Timber creek. Here he united with Glovers Creek church, and, the following year, was ordained to the deaconship. He was licensed to exercise a public gift, February 3, 1804, and ordained to the full work of the ministry, March 3, 1805. He was-called to the pastoral care of Glovers Creek, Mt. Pisgah, Dripping Spring, and Skaggs Creek churches, all in Barren county. Afterwards he gave up the care of Skaggs Creek church, and accepted that of Blue Spring, to the neighborhood of which he had moved, in 1823.
Mr. Petty possessed medium preaching gifts, and was a mild, conservative man. He was of easy, pleasant address, and was a great lover of peace. He was a good pastor, and was much beloved by his people. Besides his long and faithful pastoral labors, he did much preaching among the poor and
destitute, and, in the early part of his ministry, aided much in building up the Redeemer’s cause. His co-laborers in the eastern part of Green River Association were Stockton, Nuckols, Elkin, Logan and others.
During the great excitement in Green River Association, on the question of missions, Mr. Petty was chosen Moderator of that body, on account of his conservatism. The difficulties were happily adjusted, for the time. When the first split occurred in that body, in 1833, Mr. Petty remained with the Missionary party; but when the second split occurred, in 1838, he adhered to the Anti-missionaries. He was pastor of Blue Spring church when it excluded Thomas Edwards for joining a church that believed in "human societies."
Mr. Petty became very corpulent in his old age, but continued to preach till he was attacked by a flux of which he died, July 26, 1851. He was speechless several days before his death.
One of Mr. Petty's chief excellencies as a preacher, was his great simplicity, by which he made the most illiterate understand him. Andrew Nuckols said to him, on one occasion: "Bro. Petty, how is it that the people like your preaching so much, and think so little of mine, when we both preach the same doctrine?" "Because," replied Mr. Petty, "I cut mine up so that they can eat it, while you give them yours whole."
THOMAS EDWARDS was raised up to the ministry in Blue Spring church. He was born of Baptist parents, in the state of Virginia, September 27, 1787.He came with his parents to Woodford county, Kentucky, about 1791, and thence to what is now Metcalf county, about the year 1800. He professed religion, in his twentieth year, under the preaching of William Ratliff, by whom he was baptized into the fellowship of Blue Spring church.
In early life he was married to Katherine V., daughter of John Burks of Barren county. The fruits of this marriage were five sons and four daughters, all of whom lived to the years of maturity.
Mr. Edwards received but a limited education in his youth, but having a thirst for knowledge, he applied his leisure to study so closely, that he acquired a very good reading. He was a good historian, and was especially familiar with the Old Testament.
He possessed a clear judgment and sound piety, but his timidity kept him from attempting to exercise in public, till he was near forty years old. He was ordained to the gospel ministry, at Blue Spring, by Ralph Petty and others, about the year 1830. He was called to the care of Three Springs church in Hart county. Soon after he entered upon his pastoral work, the second split occurred in Green River Association, and Liberty Association was formed of the Missionary party, in 1840. Blue Spring church remained with the old organization. Mr. Edwards, agreeing in faith with the new association, procured a letter of dismission from Blue Spring, and united with Three Springs, of which he was pastor. For this, a charge was brought against him in Blue Spring, and he was excluded "for joining a church that believes in human societies." Five years afterwards, Blue Springs church split, and the Missionary party united with Liberty Association.
Besides Three Springs, Mr. Edwards was pastor of Little Barrern, New Liberty, East Fork and Rock Spring churches. The last named was gathered by his labors, and he was pastor, at the time of his death, of the last three named. He was a strong, sound preacher, rather than a brilliant one. He preached much from the Old Testament, especially comparing the prophecies, concerning Christ, with their fulfillment. He was regarded an excellent pastor, and his churches were all prosperous, up to the time of his death. He died of pneumonia, after an illnesss of twelve days, March 27, 1847. His confidence was unshaken as he neared the cold stream. In answer to the inquiry of his friends concerning his prospects, he calmly replied that his arrangements had long been fixed.
NATHANIEL GORIN TERRY is prominent among several excellent preachers who have been pastors of Blue Spring church, in later years. He is now a little past middle life, and has preached in the locality in which he was born, and to the people among whom he grew up, during his entire ministry; and yet it is probable that no minister was ever more beloved or fully trustedby his people. He seems to be an exception to the rule, that a prophet is without honor in his own county.
N. G. Terry is the son of Nathaniel Davis Terry, a native of Virginia. His mother was a Miss Gorin, of a family noted for intellectual vigor and active enterprise. He was born in
Barren county, Kentucky, November 17, 1826. He finished his education at Centre college, in Danville, Kentucky. His early years were spent in teaching. He was, for a time, principal of the Masonic Female College, at Glasgow, in his native county. He was married in early life to a Miss Stark, a descendant of an old French Huguenot family. Several children have blessed this union.
Mr. Terry professed religion and was baptized into the fellowship of Salem church, in Barren county, in March, 1841. His preaching gifts were not recognized by his church till 1858. In August of that year, he was licensed to preach, and was ordained to the ministry the following December. His improvement was so rapid, that within a few years, he took rank with the leading preachers in the Green River country. After preaching to Blue Spring, Dover and some other country churches three or four years, he accepted a call to the church at Glasgow. Here he ministered fourteen years, with extraordinary success. In 1875, the church at Glasgow enjoyed a most precious revival under his ministry. About sixty persons were added to the church, and among them a number of the prominent citizens of the county.
In 1876, Mr. Terry resigned his charge at Glasgow, and moved to his farm in the country. Since that period he has divided his time among four country churches. He is at present (1881) preaching to the churches at Cave City, Caverna, Rock Spring and Gilead. The latter is on the railroad in Hardin county, the others within a few miles of his home. He has been uniformly successful in his pastoral relations. He has been much engaged in protracted meetings, principally in his own region of the State, and has been abundantly successful. In October, 1865, he held an oral debate of five days continuance with T.C. Frogge, presiding elder in the Methodist church, on the action and subject of baptism; and, in October, 1868, he held a seven days’ debate with Samuel A. Kelly, on the main differences between the Baptists and Campbellites. Both the debates were at Salem church, in Barren county. In both of these contests Mr. Terry proved himself a ready, skillful and able debater, and gave much satisfaction to his people.
In 1865, Mr. Terry was elected moderator of Liberty As sociation, and has served in that capacity every year since, except
when prevented from being present by sickness. He has been much hindered in his labors by an annual attack of sickness of a very distressing character, which has followed him about sixteen years, and has frequently brought him seemingly nigh unto death. But with this serious hindrance he has baptized something over 1,100 persons and married about two hundred couples.
He is a man of strong, clearly defined convictions, is a decided Baptist and preaches his sentiments without hesitancy or apology. He is a preacher of high order of ability, is easy, fluent and pointed in his address, and interests all grades of men as few preachers in the State can do. When his feelings are fully enlisted, his power in exhortation was seldom or never surpassed in Kentucky.
CHRISTIANSBURG church is located in a small village from which it takes its name, on the Louisville and Frankfort railroad in the east end of Shelby county. It was constituted in 1799, and received into Salem Association the following year. It was at first, called Six Mile Creek. Afterward the name was contracted to Six Mile, and in 1836, exchanged for its present name. It entered into the constitution of Long Run Association in 1803. At this time it numbered 108 members. By whom it was gathered, or who was its first pastor, does not appear. Among its early members were John Gilmore, John Metcalf and Abraham Cook, all of whom were afterwards preachers, and it is probable that Metcalf was a preacher at that time. Among the prominent preachers who have served this church were Abraham Cook, Joshua Rucker, W.W. Ford and Thomas M. Daniel. This church has been a large and prosperous fraternity from the time of the great revival, which began about a year after its constitution, down to the present time, and is now one of the leading country churches of the State. It has enjoyed many precious revivals. From 1828 to 1835, it enjoyed a continual revival, during which 128 were baptized. In 1842-3 seventy-one were baptized. From 1847 to 1854, 106 were baptized. From that time to 1877 the baptisms aggregated 170, and in the fall of 1880, sixty-nine were added to the church. This church reached a membership of 300 in 1849, but next year it dropped from its records eighty-for names and dismissed a number by letter, so that its membership was reduced to 200. In 1881, it numbered about 240.
JOAN METCALF was very early, if not from its constitution, a preacher in Christiansburg church. On the constitution of North Six Mile, about 1818, he became a member of that fraternity. He remained a preacher in that church as late as 1834. He was a very moderate preacher.
JOHN EDWARDS was an excellent preacher. He was a member of Christiansburg church as early as 1803, and probably from its constitution. Not far from 1809, he moved to Woodford county, and became pastor of Griers Creek church. For a number of years he was a very valuable minister in that portion of the State, but in the fall of 1826 he moved to Missouri.
JOSHUA RUCKER was an ordained preacher in Christiansburg church as early as 1811. He was the son of the old pioneer preacher, James Rucker, some account of whom has been given elsewhere. He was a native of Virginia, but came with his parents to Woodford county, Kentucky, in his early childhood, in the Winter of 1784-5. Here he was raised up, surrounded by the dangers and privations of frontier life. About the time his father moved to Caldwell county, Kentucky, near the year 1800, he went back to the land of his birth. Where or when he united with a church, and was put into the ministry, does not appear. But after his marriage in his native State, he returned to Kentucky and settled near Christiansburg, in Shelby county, as early as 1811. Here he preached with much acceptance, till the fall of 1814, when he came to his death from hanging. He was found dead, hanging by a rope around his neck, in his barn. It remains to the present time a matter of doubt as to whether he hung himself in a fit of mental aberration, or whether the dreadful deed was done by his servants, of whom he owned a number. Mr. Rucker was a man of high respectability, and as a christian, maintained a character of unsuspected piety and devotion to the cause of his Master; as a preacher he was brilliant and popular. The tragical manner of his death threw a deep gloom over the community. Thomas Vandiver, a weak preacher of Henry county, remarked, in a sermon at Newcastle soon after the tragic event, that he would as soon have heard of the defeat of Jackson’s army, which was then facing the British forces at New Orleans as to have heard of the death of Mr. Rucker in such a manner. He expressed deep regret for the loss of a cherished brother; but the people who had friends in
Jackson's army were so much incensed, that Mr. Vandiver thought it prudent to leave the country to avoid the fury of a mob.
ABRAHAM COOK was one of the early pastors of Christiansburg church. A sketch of his life will carry the reader back to the earliest religious operations in Franklin county, as well as to the horrid scenes of Indian warfare. Abraham Cook was born of pious Baptist parents, in Franklin county, Virginia, July 6th, 1774. In 1780, his parents moved to the wilderness of Kentucky, and joined some half dozen families in forming a settlement at the Forks of Elkhorn, in what is now Franklin county. Here the father died only a few months after his arrival in the new country, and left the mother with a large family to struggle with the pinchings of poverty, and the hourly dangers of frontier life. When the settlers had increased to the number of seventy-five or one hundred souls, they began to feel the need of a preacher among them. Accordingly, the leading citizens of the little colony held a council, and commissioned John Major, a pious old Baptist, to go to the settlement on South Elkhorn, and, on behalf of the settlers, tender William Hickman a hundred acres of land on condition that he would settle among them. He reached Mr. Hickman's cabin late at night. It was in December, 1787, and the weather was very cold. "When he came in," says Mr. Hickman, "on being asked to sit down, he replied: 'No, like Abraham's servant, I will not sit down till I have told my errand.' He then told me what had brought him to see me, and gave me till the next morning to return him an answer. We passed a night of prayer. It was a night of deep thought with me, for I wished to do right." In February, 1788, Mr. Hickman moved among them, and in June following, constituted a small church called Forks of Elkhorn. A religious revival broke out in the settlement, and continued more than a year. "I think in the course of the year," says Mr. Hickman, "I must have baptized forty or fifty. I baptized nine of old sister Cook's children, and among the rest, that well known Abraham, now the minister of Indian Fork church, in Shelby county."
This devoted christian mother's heart must have overflowed with joy, at seeing so many of her loved ones embrace her Savior. But an overwhelming flood of sorrow awaited her in the
near future. About Christmas, in the year 1791, two of her sons, Hosea and Jesse, having married, and one of her daughters having married Lewis Mastin, the three young families, together with three or four others, settled three miles lower down on Elkhorn, in what was called Innis’ Bottom. Here they remained undisturbed more than a year. But on the 28th of April, 1792, the settlement was attacked at three different points, almost simultaneously, by about one hundred Indians. The two Cooks were shearing sheep. At the first fire of the Indians, one of them fell dead, and the other was mortally wounded. The wounded man ran to the cabin, got his and his brother's wife, and their two infants, and a black child into the house, barred the door, and fell dead. The two Mrs. Cooks were now left to defend themselves and their babes against the bloodthirsty savages. They had a rifle in the house, but could find no bullets. One of them finding a musket ball, bit it in two with her teeth, rammed one piece down the rifle, and, putting the gun through a small aperture in the wall, fired it at an Indian who was sitting on a log near the cabin. At the crack of the rifle he sprang high in the air and fell dead. The Indians tried to break the door open; failing in this, they fired several balls against it. But it was made of thick puncheons, and the balls would not penetrate it. As a last resort, they sprang on top of the cabin and kindled a fire; but one of the heroic women climed up in the loft and threw water on the fire till she put it out. Again the Indians fired the roof, and, this time, there was no water in the house. But when did a mothers courage or resources fail when the life of her babe was at stake? Still remaining in the loft, though an Indian had shot down through the roof at her, she had called for the eggs which had been collected in the house. These she broke and threw on the fire till it was extinguished. Once more the baffled and infuriated savages kindled a fire on the cabin roof. This time there was neither water nor eggs. But another expedient was soon found. The jacket, thoroughly saturated with blood, was taken from the body of the murdered man, and thrown over the newly kindled fire. At this moment, a ball from the Indian's rifle passed through a hank of yarn near the woman’s head, but did her no harm. The savages at last retired, and left the young mothers to weep over the bloody corpses of their husbands. Lewis
Mastin was killed about the same time. The Indians were pursued, but they all escaped across the Ohio river, except the one killed by Mrs. Cook and one other.
Abraham Cook remained a member of Forks of Elkhorn, till 1796, when he married Sarah Jones and moved to the head of Six-Mile creek, in Shelby county. Here he entered into the constitution of Six-Mile (now Christiansburg) church, in 1799. For a period of twelve years, he divided his time between laboring on his farm and studying the Bible. During this period, he suffered many conflicts and sore temptations. He felt strongly impressed with the duty of preaching the gospel. But being poorly educated, and having a very humble opinion of his his natural gifts, he strove against the impression till his anguish became almost intolerable and, at last, he was compelled to yield.
In 1806, a church called Indian Fork was constituted near where he lived, and he became a member of it. Here he was licensed to exercise his gift, on the fourth Saturday in December, 1808, and, on the fourth Sunday in September, 1809, was ordained to the work of the ministry, by William Hickman, Jr., Thomas Wooldridge, and Philip Webber. He was now thirty-five years of age. He was over six feet high, very straight, rather spare, dark, swarthy complexion, large, dark brown eyes, and black hair. He possessed a strong constitution, and was very energetic. His bearing was dignified and commanding, and his manners, gentle, affectionate and persuasive. His voice was clear, strong, and musical, and could be heard at a great distance. His piety was of that sincere, frank and earnest type, that wins the respect of all, and the love of the godly.
His preaching talent was above the mediocrity of his times, and he soon became very popular and influential. He was chosen pastor of Indian Fork, Six-Mile and Buffalo Lick churches, in Shelby county, and Mt. Carmel, in Franklin. Like most preachers of his times, he did, in addition to his pastoral labors, much preaching among the destitute, and very great success attended his labors. He supported his family by his labors on a farm, persistently refusing to receive any pay for preaching. He continued to labor, as pastor, with the churches that first called him, until the feebleness of old age admonished him to retire; and then left them all strong and prosperous.
In 1851, he sold his possessions, in Kentucky, and, with his wife and youngest daughter, moved to Missouri. His daughter took sick on the way, and died, a few days after they reached their new home. Nor did he, himself, have to wait long for the Master’s summons. On the 10th of February, 18 he passed out of the “mud-wall cottage,” and went to join the saints and their Redeemer in the New Jerusalem.
In doctrine, Mr. Cook was Calvinistic, and was very firm and decided in his principles, contending for them with earnest boldness; but he regarded it his duty to warn sinners to repent and believe the gospel. He preached the doctrines of the gospel with clearness and force, and dwelt much on the operation of the Holy Spirit and experimental religion. In exhortation, he was fervent, eloquent, and very effective. Of his descendants, Joshua F. Cook, a grandson, is a graduate of Georgetown College, and is an able preacher and a distinguished educator. He has been, for several years past, President of LaGrange College in Missouri.
THOMAS M. DANIEL held the longest and most successful pastorate in Christiansburg church, and was one of the most efficient and popular preachers that ever lived in Shelby county. Few men have ever lived and labored so long in the same locality, and had so few enemies.
Mr. Daniel was born and raised in Owen county, Kentucky. In his youth (in October 1838) he professed conversion and united with New Liberty church, in his native county. He was licensed to exercise a gift, in March, 1840. He appears to have developed slowly, at first. In June, 1844, he was requested to preach one Sunday in each month at the church of which he was a member. He was ordained to the full work of the ministry, in June, 1846, by Lewis D. Alexander, Elijah Threlkeld, and Paschal H. Todd. Having been called to the care of the church at Christiansburg, soon after he was ordained, he took a letter from New Liberty church, in November, 1847, and immediately joined the church at Christiansburg, where his membership remained till his death. Soon after he was called to Christiansburg, he became pastor, also of Indian Fork and Buffalo Lick churches in the same county, and, afterwards, of Campbellsburg church in Henry county. These churches all prospered under his ministry, as long as he served
them. In addition to his pastoral labors, he preached much among other churches, especially in protracted meetings, and an extraordinary degree of success attended these labors.
In his early life, he was a close student of the Bible, and made excellent progress in his study. But being a good economist, and a man of great industry,he began to acquire property, and, according to his own confession, allowed the world to get too strong a hold on his affections. He did not preach less, perhaps, and certainly no man ever maintained a better moral character, or had more entirely the confidence of the people, but he gave to his temporal business too much of the time that he should have devoted to study, and hence failed to attain to that high degree in his ministry, of which he was capable.
About 1869, he lost his wife, to whom he was very fondly attached, and, sometime afterwards, fell into a state of mental depression which rendered him incapable of preaching, for a year or two. After his recovery, he devoted himself wholly to the ministry with much zeal, and corresponding success. In the fall of 1879, he received a hurt, from being thrown from his buggy, from which he was confined to his bed for many weeks, after which he lapsed into a state of mental depression from which he never sufficiently recovered as to be able to preach. He raised two children (having none of his own). One of whom is his nephew, H. T. Daniel, now a prominent preacher in Richmond, Kentucky. He died in 1884.
NEWCASTLE church is located in the village from which it derives its present name, in Henry county. It was constituted of 18 members, by William Hickman and others, April 6, 1799, and was the first church gathered within the present limits of that county. It was at first, and for many years, called Drennon’s Creek. In Manly’s Annals of Elkhorn Association, it is incorrectly printed Drennons Lick. By whom this church was gathered, or who its first pastor was, there is no means at hand of knowing. It united with Elkhorn Association the same year it was constituted. At this time, it numbered to members. In 1804, when it united with Long Run Association, its membership had increased to 26. In 1811-12, it enjoyed a rerevival, under the ministry of Thomas Vandiver and Elijah Summars, during which more than 30 were baptized into its fellowship, and its membership was increased to 86. In 1818-
1819, it enjoyed another revival, during which about 30 were baptized, and its membership increased to 123. In 1823, Thomas Chilton was called to the care of the church, and, during that year, 40 were baptized. The calling of Mr. Chilton to its pastoral care, and receiving him into its membership, involved the church in a difficulty with the association, he being a Separate Baptist. A committee was sent by Long Run Association, to labor with the church, and try to convince her of her error. Failing to be convinced, but expressing a desire to still remain in the association, that fraternity entered upon her minutes of 1824, the following item: "Forasmuch as the church at Drennon's Creek expresses no desire to be separated from us, or to bear on the feelings of this association, and notwithstanding we believe she has acted inconsiderately, in professingfellowship and communion for the Separate Baptists, who are distinct from, and not in union with us, we feel disposed to exercise forbearance towards her, with this special advice -- that she rescind her order, establishing full fellowship and communion with the Separate Baptists."
This advice was rejected by a majority of the church, whereupon the association, at her meeting in 1825, advised the minority to organize as a church, and to receive into its membership two brethren who had been expelled by the majority. The minority followed the advice of the association. But before the next meeting of that body, the two parties of Drennons Creek church had happily adjusted their differences, reunited, and rescinded the obnoxious order. The united church petitioned for readmittance into the association and was "affectionately received."
The church now (1827) numbered 145 members. During the next year, a most glorious revival visited the church, under the ministry of those eminent men of God, Jeremiah Vardeman and Silas M. Noel, and 165 were baptized. This brought the membership up to 310. Drennons Creek was now, and for many years afterwards, the largest church in its association. In 1835, another great revival visited the church, under the preaching of John S. Wilson, and 136 were baptized, bringing the membership up to 375. Only three years later, another revival resulted in the baptism of 115. During the two years 1842-3, the church received 154 by baptism. In 1847, it attained to
a membership of 427. This year it joined Sulphur Fork Association. After this it enjoyed a number of extensive revivals; but its number gradually decreased, from year to year, till, in 1879, it reported only 99 members.
ISAAC MALIN was the first preacher that is known to have settled in what is now Henry county. It is not improbable that he was instrumental in gathering Newcastle church, and he may have supplied it with preaching for a short time. In 1801, he gathered Drennons Ridge church, became its pastor, and ministered to it more than forty years. In 1813, he gathered Cane Run church in the same (Henry) county. Of this church also, he was pastor many years. He was a good, plain preacher of medium gifts, and sound practical wisdom. His piety was unimpeachable and his influence over the people was very great. He took much pains to explain the scriptures, and enforce the obligation to practical godliness, by the use of plain, familiar illustrations. In one of his practical talks to his people, he is reported to have used the following language: "Brethren, Christians are like fat-gourds. If there is any fat in the gourd, it is certain to show on the outside. And, so, if there is any grace in a man’s heart, it will be seen in his works." To understand this homely, but very pointed illustration, it must be remembered that in the pioneer days, when vessels for domestic useses were very scarce, the people were accustomed to keep their lard, which they called fat, in a species of large gourd, raised for that purpose. Some of these “fat-gourds” would hold more than a peck.
THOMAS VANDIVER became a member of Newcastle church, about 1812, and ministered to it two or three years. During this period, the church enjoyed a revival season, and about 30 were baptized. But, as related in the sketch of Joshua Rucker, Mr. Vandiver made some well meant, but imprudent and thoughtless remark in the pulpit, which made it prudent for him to leave the neighborhood. He moved away from the State, about 1815. He was regarded a preacher of small talent.
THOMAS CHILTON was called to the care of Newcastle church, in 1823, and served it three or four years. He was well educated for that period, and had been bred to the law in the practice of which he continued for a time, and then entered the ministry.
He was the son of Thomas J. Chilton, one of the signers of the "Terms of General Union," and long the most prominent leader among the Separate Baptists in Kentucky, and was probably a native of Lincoln county, Kentucky. When he abandoned the law, and entered the ministry, he speedily attracted attention by his superior talents and brilliant oratory. Although a Separate Baptist, and not in union with the great body of Baptists in the State, the church at Newcastle could not resist the temptation to secure the brilliant orator as her pastor. He baptized quite a number of people there, but he probably did the church more harm than good. When he left Newcastle, in 1826, he moved to Hardin county, and resumed the practice of law. At the bar he was regarded the equal of the famous Ben. Hardin, whom he often met in debate.
In 1827, he was elected to Congress and returned again in 1829. In 1832, he was chosen one of the presidential electors for Kentucky, and the same year was elected to Congress again. During his last term in Congress he cast a vote on some important measure, contrary to the principles upon which he had been elected. His constituents were so incensed at this breach of trust, that it was feared he would be mobbed on his return from Washington. This put an end to his political career. Meanwhile, he had contracted the habit of drinking to excess, and had been excluded from the fellowship of Republican [now Big Spring] church in LaRue county. Deeply mortified by the loss of his popularity, and demoralized by strong drink, his reason tottered, and he attempted to commit suicide. Prevented from committing the rash act by his friends, he endured a long season of fearful remorse. At last he expressed thehope that God had forgiven him. He was restored to the fellowship of the church, and to the ministry. He soon afterward moved to the southern part of the State, where he remained a short time, and then moved to Alabama. Here he spent a number of years, in preaching the gospel. He finally moved to Texas and died.
THOMAS SMITH, ESQ., one of the most energetic and successful business men Kentucky has ever produced, was a member of New Castle church. He was born in Henry county, Ky., November 22, 1990. He received a common English education, and began the business of life, as a merchant, in Shelbyville.
From there he went to Port William (now Carrollton) and finally settled in business at New Castle. He continued his mercantile business here, till 1839, when he had accumulated a fortune of over a half million of dollars. At this period he sold out his mercantile interests and devoted the remainder of his life to the improvement of his immense land estate, dealing in various stocks, and promoting various improvements in his town and county. He was president of the Louisville & Frankfort railroad, and had brought it nearly to completion at the time of his death. He is said to have been a man of great benevolence. He died of cholera, August 7, 1850, in the sixtieth year of his age.
THOMAS SMITH, JR., a son of the above was born in Henry county, Kentucky, April, 1827. His father designed educating him to the law. But while pursuing his literary course at Georgetown College in his senior year, in 1845, he was led to the feet of the Savior, and made to partake of his pardoning grace. He at once united with the church at Georgetown, and was almost immediately deeply impressed with a sense of duty to preach the gospel. The church licensed him to exercise a gift, and he commenced his ministry in the hilly portion of Scott county, in the early part of the year 1846, while he was still in College. He graduated the following June. He went home and spent the summer in holding meetings in Henry and the adjoining counties. Wonderful suceess attended his labors everywhere he went.
In the fall of 1846, he entered Princeton Theological Seminary, in New Jersey. While here, he spent his Sabbaths preaching to the surrounding churches. He graduated in Theology, in 1849, and again returning home, gave himself to preaching as before, with consuming zeal. In the short time that he labored among the churches around his home, he gained the love and admiration of the people, as no other man ever did, and hundreds were brought to the Savior under his brief ministry. In October, 1849, he was ordained to the full work of the ministry.
Soon after his ordination he accepted a call to the First Baptist church in Louisville. The Baptists at that time, in the center of the city, were divided intotwo seemingly irreconcilable factions. But this wise and godly young man entered upon
his labors, with a zeal, earnestness and a dependence on God, that can never fail to accomplish a good end. Within a few months the two factions were harmonized and united. The present Walnut Street Baptist church, was the result, and Mr. Smith became its first pastor. But now a few more weeks of deeply consecrated labor, and the work of this young servant of Jesus was done.
In the fall of 1850, his health gave way, and he went south to spend the winter. But it was too late for a change of climate to effect a cure. As the spring approached he saw that his end was drawing near, and started home to die. When he reached New Orleans, he could travel no farther. On the 6th of March, 1851, he went to his final reward, aged 23 years and 11 months.
EDWIN GARDNER BERRY was pastor of New Castle church a short time. He is a native of Clark county, Kentucky, and was born February 1, 1801. His father was Lewis Berry and his mother was a sister of Elder William Rash. His parents were in rather limited circumstances, as to this world’s goods, and he received a very limited education. But being fond of music, and having an excellent voice for singing, he obtained sufficient knowledge of that science, to be able to teach its rudiments. He was married to Ellen, daughter of John Strode, of Clark county, November 29, 1821. This young woman made him a most excellent wife. She was a very extraordinary business woman, and to her, no doubt, he owed his success in life, as much as to his own energy and prudence. She became the mother of eighteen children, fourteen of whom were raised and became members of Baptist churches. In addition to this she and her husband raised and educated not less than four orphans. This remarkable couple began life very poor, and Mr. Berry did, perhaps, as much preaching as an average of his contemporaries in the ministry, yet, without entering into speculation, and by mere dint of economy and industry, they raised and educated eighteen children, gave such of them as married, a comfortable start in life, and had left for their support in old age, a fortune perhaps of $25,000.
In March, 1824, Mr. Berry moved to Henry county. In 1828, during the great revival at Newcastle, he, with his wife, professed conversion, and was baptized October 15th, by Jeremiah
Vardeman, into the fellowship of Newcastle church. Moving to the neighborhood of East Fork, in the same county, he, with his wife, united with that church, by letter, in June, 1834. In August of the same year, he was chosen a deacon of that church. The following October, he was liberated to exercise a preaching gift, and, in September, 1835, was ordained to the ministry by Robert W. Ricketts, Joel Hulsy, John A. McGuire and John Dale. He was called to the care of LaGrange church the same year, and served it as pastor twenty-six years. He succeeded Joel Hulsy at East Fork church, ofwhich he was, and still is, a member, in the spring of 1838, and, with the exception of two or three years during the Civil War, served it as pastor till 1882. Besides these, he has served the churches at Newcastle, Ballardsville, Pleasant Grove, Eighteen Mile, Clear Creek, Fox Run, Hillsboro and Sligo at different periods. In 1840, he was elected moderator of Sulphur Fork Association, and served in that capacity at every meeting of that body except one, when he was absent, till 1882.
Mr. Berry's preaching talent was by no means brilliant at the beginning, and it developed slowly. But he was, from the first, a close Bible student, and advanced no thought till it was fully matured. He is a man of extraordinary practical wisdom, and his cool, deliberate prudence never forsakes him. He is a plain, practical, sound preacher, rather than a profound or brilliant one. His sermons are eminently scriptural, and are profusely interlarded with quotations from the Bible. When called to preach at associations, or on other extraordinary occasions, he never makes a failure. Knowing beforehand what he is able to perform, he undertakes no more than he can accomplish. He has enjoyed a good degree of success during his whole ministry. He is now in his eighty-fifth year, and walks as straight as a youth, and frequently as briskly. The great trial of life was the loss of his aged companion, who died in the full persuasion of the christian's hope, May 7th, 1877.
WILLIAM A. CAPLINGER, a pious, gifted and consecrated young man, was, for a short time, pastor of Newcastle church. He was a native of Oldham county, Ky., and was born of Baptist parents in 1843. He united with Ballardsville church in his native county in 1859, and was baptized by W.W. Foree. Although only sixteen years of age, he was licensed to preach
only one month after he was baptized. After spending some years in study, he was ordained to the ministry, in 1866, and accepted a call to the church at Charleston, Illinois. He continued here two years, and baptized twenty persons. He then preached a short time at Jeffersonville, Indiana. In November, 1859, he accepted a call to Valparaiso, in the same State. Here he baptized forty-three. He supplied the church at Greensburg, Ind, a short time, and baptized forty-three. Soon after this, he accepted a call to Shelbyville, Ind, where he baptized thirty-five. But disease of the lungs caused him to return to Kentucky. Here he took charge of Newcastle, Ballardsville, Covington and LaGrange churches. After laboring among these churches a short time, his lung trouble increased to such a degree as to force him to desist from preaching. He made a trip to Colorado, and his health seemed to improve so rapidly that he resolved to make that country his home. But on returning to Kentucky for his family, he lingered some months among his friends before bidding them a final adieu. This delay proved fatal. He reached Pueblo, Colorado, and ministered to the church there several months. But it became apparent that he was near the endof his pilgrimage, and he returned to Kentucky to die among his friends. He went to give an account of his stewardship, November 7, 1878. His labors aggregated nine hundred sermons, and four hundred were received into the churches under his ministry. He left an excellent wife, Jennie, daughter of Thomas Bain of LaGrange, Kentucky, and several small children.
ROBERT RYLAND, who was pastor of Newcastle church a short time, is a son of Josiah Ryland, and was born in King and Queen county, Virginia, March 14th, 1805. He united with the church at Bruington, and was baptized by Robert B. Semple, August 1, 1824. He was licensed to preach September 4, 1825, graduated at Columbian College, D.C., in 1826, was ordained to the ministry April 27th, 1827, and immediately accepted a call to the church at Lynchburg. On the 4th of July, 1832, he became principal of the Virginia Baptist Seminary, located in Richmond. Under his management, this seminary grew into Richmond College, and he continued to preside over it until 1866, when he resigned, and, in 1868, moved to Kentucky. He was pastor of the First African church in Richmond,
Virginia, twenty-five years. This church greatly prospered under his ministry, and was probably, for a number of years, the largest Baptist church in America. Since Mr. Ryland came to Kentucky, he has conducted female schools in Shelbyville, Lexington and Newcastle. He has usually served one or more churches as pastor. He has recently returned to Virginia.
BUCK CREEK church was gathered, as tradition has it, under the labors of William Edmund Waller, who became its first pastor. It was constituted early enough in the year 1799, to be received into Salem Association the same year. The first three years of its existence, it was called Plum Creek church. In 1803, it assumed the name Plum and Buck Creek. In 1807, the name was contracted to Buck Creek, by which it has continued to be known to the present time. When it entered into the constitution of Long Run Association, in 1803, it numbered fifty-eight members. About this time George Waller succeeded his father2 in the pastoral office, and continued to serve in that capacity till old age admonished him to relinquish the responsibility. The church had a slow, regular growth, almost exclusively from additions by letter till 1822, when it numbered about one hundred and fifteen members. During this year, a most precious revival visited the valley of Buck creek, in the southern border of Shelby county, and within two years, one hundred and twenty-eight were baptized into the fellowship of Buck Creek church. The church now numbered two hundred and forty, and was the largest in Long Run Association. Another revival, in 1827, added to the church fifty-six by baptism. From 1833 to 1842, the church was in an almost continuous revival, and, during this period, two hundred and eighty-nine were added to the church by baptism. At the latter date, it numbered three hundred and fourty-two members, and was the largestin the association, except that at Shelbyville and the First African church in Louisville. But the days of its prosperity were now over, at least for many dreary years of coldness, strife and schism. During the next eight years, there was but one person baptized into its fellowship. A difficulty between the pastor and one of the members ultimated in a division of the
church in 1849. Both parties were denied a seat in the association. But next year, both parties were admitted into the association as separate churches, but both worshiping on different days in the same house. The party adhering to the old pastor, and numbering one hundred and forty, were admitted as Buck Creek church; the other, containing seventy-two members, was admitted as Second Buck Creek. They remained separate churches ten years, during which the larger diminished to one hundred and two, and the smaller to fifty-seven -- an aggregate loss of fifty-three members. In 1860, they reunited, and reported to the association one hundred and sixty-one members. From that time till 1880 -- a period of twenty years -- the church received by baptism just fifty. Its total membership in 1879, was ninety-five. In 1872, Buck Creek church entered into the constitution of Shelby County Association, of which it is still a member. S. F. Thomson is its present pastor.
WILLIAM EDMUND WALLER, the first pastor of Buck Creek church was a native of Spottsylvania county, Va., and was a brother of the famous John Waller, who suffered so severely in Virginia jails, "for preaching the gospel of the Son of God, contrary to law." It is not known that William E. Waller, was imprisoned for preaching, or, indeed, that he was in the ministry at a sufficiently early period to have suffered that form of persecution. The earliest account we have of his preaching is, that the became pastor of County Line church in his native county, in 1782. In 1784, he moved to Kentucky, and settled in what is now Garrard county. Here he most probably united with Gilberts Creek church of Separate Baptists, as he belonged to that sect in Virginia. In 1785, his -son William S. Waller, who became a distinguished banker, was born in Garrard county. In 1786, he moved to Fayette county, and on the 15th of July, of that year, united with Bryants church. His ministerial functions, however, were not recognized by that church, until the first of the following November. In Angust, 1788, "the church took into consideration the conduct of Brother William E. Waller, in his manner of leaving us, [and are unanimously of opinion that his conduct was disorderly, and for the same disfellowship him." This transaction on the part of the church at Bryants, though not stated on the records, appears to have been in consequence of Mr. Waller’s joining in the constitution of a
small Separate Baptist church, called Hustons Creek in Bourbon county, without having obtained a letter of dismission, from Bryants. Besides this, Bryants was a Regular Baptist church and hence not in fellowship with the Separate Baptists. In December, 1789, Bryants church made the following record: "William E. Waller came before the church and gave full satisfaction for the cause for which he was disfellowshipped, and is received into union again." After this he was identified with the Regular Baptists, till the Regulars and Separates were united on the "terms of the General Union," in 1801.
Mr. Waller remained about twelve years in Fayette county. It does not appear that he was pastor of any church, while he lived in that region. He was however, a useful co-laborer with the pioneer preachers of that early period, in building up the cause of the Redeemer in the wilderness, and his name should have a place with those of that noble band of brave and self-sacrificing men, who “took their lives in their hands,” and planted the standard of the cross on the ancient hunting ground of the cruel and blood-thirsty men of the forest.
In March, 1798, Mr. Waller took a letter of dismission from Bryants, moved to what is now the southern border of Shelby county, and settled on Buck creek, on a large tract of land which his father-in-law, a Mr. Smith, had given to his daughter, Mr. Waller’s wife. Here, in 1799, Mr. Waller gathered a small church, which now bears the name of Buck creek, and ministered to it about four years. He also aided in gathering Cane and Back Run (now Kings) church, in 1800, and probably ministered to it two or three years, when he was succeeded by Henson Hobbs. Mr. Waller, having lost his wife, returned to Virginia, in 1803. Marrying a second wife, and settling in the region that gave him birth, he became pastor of Goldmine church in Louisa county, in 1807. He continued to live and labor in this region until the Lord called him home in his eighty-third year.
William Edmund Waller has acquired more fame in modern history from the eminent distinction of his posterity, than from his personal gifts or acquirements. He was a highly respectable citizen, and a man a of high sense of honor and of strict integrity. As a Christian his garments were unspotted, and his piety was sincere and constant. As a preacher, his gifts appear to have been below the mediocrity of his time. The church at
Bryants, of which he was a member, and which was, at that time, one of the largest and most intelligent in the country, entered upon its book of records, in March, 1790, the following item: "On a motion made to the church, respecting Bro, William E. Waller's gift, what they consider it to be, the church are of opinion that Bro. William E. Waller has a profitable gift, but mainly in exhortation; yet that he is at liberty to exercise in doctrine whenever he finds free." At this time Mr. Waller was in the prime of life, and had been an ordained preacher at least eight years.
Among the distinguished ministers of the gospel, in Kentucky, who have descended from William Edmund Waller, George Waller and Edmund Waller were his sons, John L. Waller, N. B. Waller and J. C. Waller, his grand sons, and William Edmund Waller, Jr., his great grandson.
GEORGE WALLER, son of William E. Waller, succeeded his father in the pastoral care of Buck Creek church, about the year 1803. He was, during a period of more than forty years, among the ablest, most laborious and successful preachers in the State. He was a man of enlarged public spirit, and was prominent in all the general enterprises of his denomination. He was among the first general agents of the Kentucky Baptist State Convention, and was the first moderator of the General Association of Kentucky Baptists. He warmly favored all the missionary operations of his denomination, both foreign and domestic, and gave the full measure of his influence to their success.
George Waller was born in Spottsylvania county, Va., September 12, 1777. He was brought by his parents to Kentucky, when he was seven years old, and was raised up among the dangers, privations, and hardships of the western wilderness. His opportunities for obtaining an education were few, and in early life, his knowledge of letters was very limited. In his youth he was fond of the rustic sports and feats of daring, indulged in at that period. He was especially fond of horse racing, and devoted no small portion of his time to his favorite amusement. At the age of 21 years, he moved with his parents from Fayette to Shelby county, where, soon afterwards, he was married to Polly, daughter of Reuben Ware. His marriage was blessed with five sons and four daughters, all of whom, except a boy which died in infancy, became Baptists.
Mr. Waller professed religion during the great revival, in 1801, and was baptized by his father into the fellowship of Buck Creek church. His conversion seemed to be complete. Heat once gave himself to the service of God, with as much zeal and energy as he had before employed in the service of the Devil. Within the next two years, he was ordained to the ministry, and became pastor of Buck Creek church. This church he served about 45 years, and baptized into its fellowship about 500 persons. He commenced his missionary labors abroad in 1803, when he was sent by his church to preach in a new settlement in the southern border of Indiana. In 1805, he was called to the care of Burks Branch church in Shelby county, and ministered to it about 43 years. He baptized into its fellowship about 300. He accepted the care of Bethel church, in 1809, and served in that capacity 23 years. He baptized for this church about 140. He was, at different periods, pastor of Elk Creek andLittle Union in Spencer county, Harrods Creek in Oldham county, the First church in Louisville, and probably several others. In his journal, he says: “During the revival [in the fall of 1834] I baptized 135.” In 1832, he accepted an appointment to travel among the churches in the central part of the State, in the interest of the Kentucky Baptist State Convention, and continued in that work, one year. Much good was accomplished through his labors. This convention was the first missionary organization that was established among the Baptists of Kentucky. Many of the churches openly opposed it, and many others were hesitating and suspicious in regard to the propriety of such an association. Mr. Waller turned the lukewarmness of many into a, fervent zeal, many who were doubtful were confirmed, and some opposers were brought to favor the convention.
In 1818, Mr. Waller was elected Moderator of Long Run Association, and occupied that position continuously, during 25 years. He was what is commonly called a self-made man. He possessed a strong intellect, a closely discriminating mind, and an unfaltering purpose. He was not long, after he entered the ministry, in becoming a man of good reading, and a fair writer. In his early ministry, he was accustomed to write down rules, or resolutions, for his own government. Two of these rules, written in his private diary, in 1805, are here transcribed:
"Resolved: The Lord helping me, that from this time
till I die, to be more particularly observant of that command. 'Speak evil of no man.'"
"Resolved never to enter in to a strenuous argument with any man, on any occasion, forasmuch as I believe it to be contrary to the Spirit of Christianity."
Mr. Waller was strongly Calvinistic in doctrine, intensely fixed in his convictions, and had a great aversion to inovation. When A. Campbell began to disseminate his doctrines in Kentucky, Mr. Waller and Spencer Clack established a Baptist journal, in Bloomfield, for the purpose of combatting these heresies. The paper was at first called the Baptist Register, but soon afterwards took the name of the Baptist Recorder. It was established in 1826, and its publication was continued about four years.
About 1848, Mr. Waller retired from active labor, on account of old age, and spent the evening of his life in the quiet and peace of the home circle. In ,1860, just as the ominous clouds of civil war began to loom darkly above the horizon, the old soldier of the Cross folded his mantle about him, and quietly departed for the home of the blessed. Of his descendants, J. C. Waller, a son, and William E. Waller, a grandson, became preachers.
THOMAS M. VAUGHAN, son of the distinguished William Vaughan, was pastor of Buck Creek church some years. He was born in Mason county, Kentucky, June 11, 1825. He received a good education, finishing his literary course at Georgetown College. He then studied law, and was admitted to the bar at Versailles, Kentucky, in 1847. In 1853, impressions of duty to preach the gospel, which he had felt, but suppressed, years before, now returned with such force that he abandoned the law. In January, 1854, he entered the study of the renowned John L. Waller, where he spent some time in studying theology.
Mr. Vaughan professed religion, and was baptized into the fellowship of Lawrenceburg church in Anderson county, in 1841. He was licensed to exercise his gift by the church at Versailles, in 1855. In 1856, he was ordained to the work of the ministry, and became pastor of the churches at Burks Branch and Clay Village in Shelby county. In 1857, he married Jennie Willis, a most excellent young woman of Shelby county.
In 1858, he accepted a call to the church at Bowling Green, in Warren county. He remained here about three years, when, in February, 1861, he accepted the pastoral care of Simpsonville and Buck Creek churches in Shelby county. Soon afterwards he accepted also the care of Salem church, in the same county, and that of Lawrenceburg, in Anderson county. To these four churches he ministered with much acceptance. Here he reached the zenith of his power and influence as a preacher. He was much beloved by all his churches, and became one of the leading ministers in Long Run Association. But from a violent recurrence of rheumatism, his health became so much enfeebled that he was unable to travel over his large field of labor. After about ten years of successful and highly appreciated labor, he resigned his charge in Shelby county, and, in December, 1870, moved to Danville, having accepted a call to the church in that town. Here he labored with much acceptance, about eight years. But another recurrence of rheumatism, still more violent than any of his former attacks, rendered him unable to preach. The church refused, for some time, to accept his resignation; but was finally compelled to give him up, with great reluctance. He finally recovered so far as to be able to preach, and is now (1885) ministering to some country churches around Danville.3
Mr. Vaughan is a good model of a preacher. He is not a brilliant genius, and is by no means an orator. His voice is bad, and his delivery is defective. But he possesses much higher qualities than any of these that are defective. He has a good intellect, he is well educated in all that pertains to his calling, his mind is well disciplined and his language is remarkably chaste. He labors under a strong conviction that he is called of God to proclaim his gospel, and his piety is deep and sincere, without ostentation.
Of the ten churches constituted in 1799, whose histories have now been given, at least eight of them are still in existence. Most of them have been mothers of large families and several of them are still strong and vigorous bodies. Flat Lick and Somerset are leading churches in Pulaski county. Buck Creek and Christiansburg are representative bodies of
their kind in Shelby county, Blue Spring, though not large, is still a very respectable church in Metcalf county, Charleston church in Clark county, Indiana, has passed through many fiery trials, and was once almost extinct, but it now represents the Baptist interest in a flourishing county seat; Elklick stands among the most respectable churches of the once large and flourishing fraternity, called Licking Association, and is the largest body, of its order, in Scott county. Four-Mile and Eddy Grove have disappeared. The children of God that composed these churches 86 years ago, are probably all "gone to their long home," and most of their children have followed them across the cold, dark river, and with them, have joined the General Assembly and church of the first born.
1 For other particulars of this church, see History of Little River Association.
2 It is not certain that Wm. McCoy did not serve this church a short time before George Waller.
3 He has recently accepted a call to Christiansburg.
[John Henderson Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists, 1885; rpt. CHR&A, 1984.]
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