Churches Gathered in 1800, Close of the Century, Statistics
There was probably never a period of more profound peace and quiet in Kentucky than prevailed in the State during the year 1800. The country had been agitated with the most exciting political questions almost constantly from the first settlement at Boonesborough, in 1775, to the present time -- a period of twenty-five years. But all causes of general agitation had now been removed, and the people were left to pursue the avocations of domestic life, undisturbed. But in religious affairs, the land was enveloped in the deepest gloom.
The beginning of the year, 1800, was the darkest period that has ever occurred in the religious history of the Mississippi Valley. The gloom had been thickening year after year, till the land was now enveloped in darkness, like that which anciently overspread the land of Egypt. The morals of the people were extremely bad, and open infidelity vaunted itself in every part of the land. It was openly asserted by leading politicians, that christianity was inconsistent with liberal and enlightened statesmanship. Lawyers, physicians and other men of real or pretended culture, felt that it would be a reproach to them to acknowledge the truth of revealed religion, and, of course the masses were much affected by the opinion of their leaders. Most of the preachers of the State were illiterate, and were unable to answer the sophistries of their opposers. Under the pressure of this popular infidel sentiment, a number of influential preachers had modified their religious doctrines in such a manner as to injure the cause of christianity more than openly avowed infidelity would have done. William Bledsoe and John Bailey, by far the most brilliant and intellectual preacher among the Separate Baptists, had become Universalists, Peter Bainbridge
had been excluded from his church, perhaps for similar heresy. Augustine Eastin and James Garrard, prominent ministers in the Elkhorn Association, and the latter, now governor of the State, had adopted sociniaaism -- a practical denial of the divinity of Jesus Christ. From a human standpoint, it does not appear strange that religion seemed powerless to move the people.
The causes that led to this gloomy state of affairs are palpable enough to one versed in the history of the times, at least so far as human agency can affect such a result. But it is not proposed to discuss them here. They will receive attention in another place. At present it is proposed to give a detailed account of the labors of those faithful men of God, who continued to strive on amid all discouraging surroundings, ever hoping, waiting and expecting the divineblessing upon their efforts. There was, indeed, everything to discourage the Christian laborer; but relying now solely on the promise of God -- for the night was too dark to see even a little twinkling star -- the humble servants of Jesus Christ went forth into the wilderness, collecting the straying and discouraged sheep, and gathering’ them into folds, where they could be fed with the bread of life. Before the year closed, the long dreary night began to be relieved from its dense darkness by the faint gleanings of the coming morning, that beamed with such glorious resplendence, the next year. A few churches were gathered, even during this year, and were ready to receive the blessing that was so near at hand.
DRY CREEK church is located on the Lexington and Covington turnpike, about five miles from the latter city, in Kenton county. The church was gathered principally by the labors of Moses Vickers, and was constituted of twenty-two members by William Cave, Jeremiah Kirtley and William Conner, July 19, 1800. They had previously met for the purpose of being constituted a church, but through the influence of John Taylor the Presbytery refused to constitute them, because they were deemed "unable to maintain the worship of God without help from abroad." This stirred them up to improve their gifts, and they were soon afterward deemed "ripe for the constitution." The church united with Elkhorn Association, the same year it was constituted. Moses Vickers was soon set apart to the ministry,
and became its pastor. During the great revival, which followed immediately after its constitution, it received, within two years, twenty by baptism, and its membership was brought up to eighty. In 1803, it entered into the constitution of North Bend Association, of which it is still a member. The church enjoyed a general course of prosperity, till 1830. In 1816, it resolved to aid in sending the gospel to the West. In 1819, it rejected soiree applicants for membership, because they refused to submit to re-immersion. In 1830, it had some confusion about Campbellism, and lost a few members by that heresy. In 1840, it lost fifteen members by the Antinomian schism.
During a revival, in 1829, the church received fifty-eight by baptism, which brought its membership up to 201. This was probably its maximum membership. But it has been a respectable and influential body during its entire history. In 1878, it numbered sixty-seven members.
MOSES VICKERS, the first pastor of Dry Creek church, was among the first settlers in North Bend. He was a native of Queen Anna county, Maryland, where he was born in 1764. His parents dying while he was a small boy, he was raised by an uncle. He was employed two years on a coasting vessel, on the Delaware bay. This vessel being wrecked, he obtained employment on theJersey shore, till he was about eighteen years old. At this time, he was married to Mary, daughter of Abel Carson.
In 1784, Mr. Vickers, with a number of other emigrants started to Kentucky. At a small settlement around Redstone Fort — now Brownsville, Pa. — they stopped and made a crop, and, in the fall moved on again. As was common in those days they came down the Ohio river in a flatboat, to Limestone, meeting with many adventures from attacks by Indians. From Limestone, Mr. Vickers went first to Clark county, and from there to Caneridge, in Bourbon county. Here he and his wife professed conversion, and united with the Baptist church. In 1795, he moved to Boone county, and settled near the mouth of Dry creek. The house he lived in the first year, on Dry creek, was built of one tree, the roof and floor being formed of the bark. In 1800, there were seventeen Baptists in this settlement. Desiring to have a church constituted among them, they invited helps to meet with them to effect that end. On examination it
was found that none of those wishing to go into the constitution, held family prayer. On this ground the council refused to constitute them a church. "This very much afflicted them," says John Taylor, who was one of the council, "and before they parted, they agreed to meet the next Sunday, to counsel further what they should do." "When they met,” continues Mr. Taylor, "they had a very small, poor man among them. He was decrepit, for he limped as he walked. His name was Moses Vickers. He was a good singer, and a man of good religious fame. When they convened, Vickers began to sing and weep among them, and proposed to go to prayer; after which, he exhorted them in tears, to trust in the Lord. They had such a tender, weeping meeting, that they concluded to meet the next Sunday. A revival of religion soon took place among them, and they became constituted. Vickers became a respectable preacher among them. They soon called him to ordination, and he baptized many, that were the fruits of his own labors." He continued pastor of Dry Creek and Bank Lick churches, till age and infirmity admonished him to retire from active labor. He was also pastor of Hopewell church in Hamilton county, Ohio, several years. He died at his home in Kenton county, Jan. 4, 1820.
Mr. Vickers was twice married, and raised ten children, of whom James and Robert became respectable Baptist preachers. Thomas F. Vickers, a grand son, and son of James Vickers, is regarded a good preacher.
GHENT church, now located in a small village on the bank of the Ohio, eight miles above the mouth of Kentucky river, in Carroll county, has rather asingular history. It originated from a "union meeting," held by the Baptists and Methodists at Port William -- now Carrollton -- in the winter and spring of 1800. Even a small revival of religion, just at this period, was of such rare occurrence as to attract general attention. John Taylor says, that very early in the spring of 1800, he received a letter from Benjamin Craig, at the mouth of Kentucky river, informing him that there was a great revival of religion in progress at that place. The distance from Bullittsburg church, where Mr. Taylor lived, was about 60 miles. He, however, reached Mr. Craig's the night the meeting was to be at his house. "From the dull feelings of my heart," says Mr. Taylor,
"I took a text which suited my own state -- 'Lord help me.' I continued but a short time, for I felt myself very worthless. After which they continued on, in prayer, praise and exhortation, with much noise, at times, till late in the night. Some were rejoicing, having lately obtained deliverance; others groaning in tears, under a pensive load of guilt. My own heart was so barren and hard, 'that I wished myself out of sight, or lying under the seats where the people sat, or trodden under their feet. Many of the people tarried all night. One object with them was to converse with me. I never heard the question. -- 'what shall we do to be saved?' -- more prevalent at any time in my life, nor had I ever so many questions asked me, for the same length of time, as through the balance of this night." Mr. Taylor expressed his fears that the union between the Methodists and Baptists, who were all now working together, would soon be dissolved, "which came to pass soon after, when they came to divide the fish they had caught together."
On the 5th of April, a Baptist church of 10 members was constituted at this place, "on the doctrine and discipline of the holy scriptures," by William Hickman and Joshua Morris. They did not adopt the ordinarily received confession of faith. This omission may have been a concession to the Methodists, who had been laboring with them in the revival, or it may have been a stroke of policy by which they hoped to catch the young converts of Arminian proclivities. However this may have been, when "the church at Port William petitioned for admittance" into Salem Association, the following fall, "it was rejected." After this rejection, it adopted the Philadelphia confession of faith, and was received into Elkhorn Association, in 1801. At this time, it reported 20 baptized, during the year, and a total membership of 97. In 1804, it united with Long Run Association. In 1814, the church changed its name from Port William to McCool's Bottom, and, the same year, entered into Concord Association, of which it is still a member. At that period, it numbered 100 members. In 1858, it reached a membership of 224. After that, it declined innumbers for several years, but again revived, and, in 1878, numbered 196 members. This church has been rather migratory. Changing its location at least four times. Its last move was to the village
from which it derives its present name, eight miles from where it was constituted. A. N. White is its present pastor.
Joshua Morris was the first pastor of this church, which was probably gathered by his labors, as he united with it the same day it was constituted. He served the church two or three years, and then moved away. If, as has been supposed, this was the same Joshua Morris that settled very early in Shelby county, a sketch of his life has been given elsewhere.1
JOHN SCOTT was the second pastor of Ghent church. He was born in Londonderry county, Ireland, May 8, 1767. He received a fair education, and was raised up in the Presbyterian church. In 1788, he emigrated to America. After remaining a few months in Pennsylvania, he went to Kentucky, arriving at Lexington in November, 1789. He had brought from Ireland a letter of recommendation to the Presbyterian church, stating that he was a member of that order, and entitled to all its privileges. He was, ordinarily, very strict in observing the forms of religious devotion. But during his journeyings he had neglected his religious exercises. Of this he speaks as follows: "Having been traveling several weeks over the mountains and in a boat down the Ohio, I had neglected my devotional exercises and traveled on the Sabbath. I had, in my own estimation, become very deeply involved in debt; and the only way I could think of paying was to double my diligence in my religious exercises, and, when I got time, keep as many week days as I had misspent Sabbaths. The first I set out to do, and for a time I thought I was doing very well; but O! my good Lord, how good he was and is to me. Some time near Christmas, in the evening, I went to my usual place of resort to pay my evening vows to Him. When on my knees, I discovered what I had never seen before, that there was deceit in my heart -- that when I was attempting to worship God, my mind was wandering and set on other objects. I thought at once that such service could not be acceptable to God." With this, a deep conviction of his guiltiness and moral pollution before God, seized upon his mind. For more than three months he struggled with the great burden of his guilt, constantly wrestling with
God in prayer for mercy. About the first of April, 1790, he was enabled to trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, and experienced great peace and joy of soul. He had, at first, no intention of changing his church relationship; but his friend fearing he might do so, went to an old Presbyterian minister, procured a pamphlet on the subject of baptism, and put it in his hands for him to read. This led him to a careful investigationof the subject, and resulted in his conviction that nothing but the immersion of a believer was christian baptism. In September, 1790, he united with Town Fork Baptist church near Lexington, and was baptized by Joseph Redding. He remained a silent member in the church till about the beginning of the great revival of 1800-3. At this time, he began to hold prayer meetings in his neighborhood. A precious revival ensued, and many were converted. At this time he was a member of Forks of Elkhorn church, in Franklin county, of which the famous William Hickman was pastor. This church encouraged him to go forward, and, on the second Sabbath in March, 1802, he was ordained to the ministry by William Hickman and George Smith. About this time Mr. Scott began to exercise in public. William Hickman visited a new settlement, in what is now Owen county. The spirit of the Lord was with him, and a number of persons were converted and baptized. The next year, (June 23, 1801), a church now called NEW LIBERTY, was constituted of thirty members by John Price and John Davis. It was at first called Twins, and united with Elkhorn Association the same year it was constituted. In 1804, it united with Long Run Association, and, in 1821, entered into the constitution of Concord Association. At this time it numbered two hundred and ninety-four members. It was then, and usually has been since, the largest church in Concord Association. It has raised up a number of very valuable preachers, among whom may be named L. D. Alexander, Archer Smith, T. M. Daniel, C. M. Riley, B. F. Kenney and Boswell Garnett. It is the oldest church in Owen county, and is the mother of many.
John Scott moved into the bounds of New Liberty church, and became its pastor immediately after his ordination, in 1802. Here he ministered 31 years. When he took the care of this church it embraced thirty-eight members; when he resigned, in 1833, it numbered one hundred and seventy-nine, and had sent
out several colonies to form new churches. It 1803, he was called to the church now known as Ghent. Of his connection with that body, its historian says: "Brother Scott served the church, more or less through life, without compensation, and gave to it the lot of ground on which its present house stands, in the town of Ghent."
In 1825, Mr. Scott moved his residence to Carroll county, but did not change his pastoral relationship. On the occasion of this removal, New Liberty church gave him the following certificate: "That as a preacher, he has been strictly moral, just and judicious; his public ministrations of the word and ordinances have been thankfully received and much appreciated, having been given freely, without money or price." He was probably pastor of some other churches. Mr. Scott was 35 years old when he was ordained to the ministry, and preached the gospel about 45 years. He would receive no compensation for preaching, yet, being a prudent, industrious man, he acquired a considerable fortune. As far as now known, he was the first preacher that settled within the present limits of Owen county. He possessed superior preaching talents, and occupied a high position among his brethren in the ministry. He was clerk of Long Run Association from 1812 to 1815, was moderator of Concord Association four years, clerk three years, and its introductory preacher seven times, He died at his home in Carroll county about 1847.
LEWIS D. ALEXANDER was called to the care of Ghent church in 1837. He was probably the most popular and successful preacher that ever lived within the limits of Concord Association. If eloquence consists in that quality of speaking which most moves the masses towards the purpose of the orator, Lewis Alexander was eloquent in an extraordinary degree. Yet it would be difficult for a critic to determine what his eloquence consisted in. He was ignorant of the first principles of grammar, and his English was decidedly bad. He seldom, or never, seemed impassioned in his address. He was a close, lifelong student of two books. He studied the Bible without the knowledge of rules of composition or interpretation; but he turned the silken leaves of the human heart with a delicacy that disclosed to his quick comprehension its inmost secrets. When he came before an audience, he applied the teachings
of the Bible to the wants of the people in a manner so simple that all understood and felt what he said. Even the educated forgot the rudeness of his language, and were thrillingly interested in what he taught.
Mr. Alexander was born in Wilkes county, N. C., Sept. 17, 1799. In the fall of 1803, he was brought by his father, Travis Alexander, to Scott county, Kentucky. Here he was brought up by pious Baptist parents. He was strictly moral from his childhood, but did not profess conversion, till 1823. In September of that year, he was baptized, with his wife, by Jas. Suggett, into the fellowship of Stamping Ground church in Scott county. He was licensed to exercise a gift by that church, which he did, but only in public prayer and exhortation. In January, 1835, he moved to Owen county, and in March following, united with New Liberty church. In October of the same year, this church licensed him to preach, and, in July, 1836, he was ordained to the full work of the ministry, by Cornelius Duval, A. Suter, Wm. Morgan, John Scott, James D. Black, Mareen Duval, and Rockwood Giddings. The following year, he accepted a call to Ghent church, and served in this capacity 12 years. At this time, that church numbered 46 members; when he resigned, it numbered 169, having received by baptism, 163. In 1838, he was called to New Liberty church, of which he was a member. He preached to this church, one Sunday inthe month, 24 years, during which 862 were baptized into its fellowship. Besides the two already named, he preached at different times to Whites Run, Emmaus, Cane Run, Salem, Owenton, Dallasburg, Carrollton, and Poplar Grove churches.
Mr. Alexander was 37 years old when he was ordained, and preached 26 years. His success was remarkable, from first to last. He died at his home in Owen county, December 20, 1862.
WILLIAM JOHNSON was pastor of Ghent church a number of years. He was a man of good attainments, was an eloquent and attractive speaker, and was much loved for his deep toned and constant piety. But he was peculiarly defective in his social powers. His preaching, like that of the gifted David E. Burns, was pleasing and attractive, rather than effective. He enjoyed but a moderate degree of success in his ministry. He came
from Missouri to Ghent, and, after remaining there a number of years, returned to that State again. If he is living, he is quite an old man now. It is regretted that more particulars of his life are not at hand.
CORN CREEK church is located in Trimble county, some eight or nine miles north of Bedford, the county seat. It takes its name from a small stream which flows not far from it. It was gathered by the famous old pioneer, John Taylor, and was constituted of about 20 members, in the fall of 1800. It united with Salem Association the following year. There were about fifty families in this isolated settlement, when Mr. Taylor moved to it, in 1802. But after this, it filled up pretty rapidly, and the little church grew to a membership of 65, within less than three years. In 1803, it entered into the constitution of Long Run Association, and in 1826, went into the constitution of Sulphur Fork Association, to which it reported, the following year, 125 members. Of this fraternity, it remains a member till the present time.
From the peculiar teaching of John Taylor, on the subject, Corn Creek church had no pastor, for at least 27 years from its constitution, but was ministered to, by whatever preacher, or preachers, happened to be of its membership. John Taylor was its principal preacher, from its constitution, till 1815. Philemon Vawter, George Kendal and William Buckley, also labored among its members during its history. The church disapproved of Freemasonry, and had a good deal of confusion on that subject.
From the time this church entered into Sulphur Fork Association, till 1864, it was one of the most prosperous in that fraternity. At the latter date, it numbered 333 members. But, in 1865, the colored members separated from it, and a number of its most efficient white members were dismissed to go intothe constitution of Locust church in Carroll county. Since that period, the old church appears to have withered. In 1879, it numbered 98 members.
PHILEMON VAWTER was early a preacher in this church. He was born in Orange, or Culpeper county, Va., about 1765. After he grew up and married, he moved to the Holston Valley, where he was baptized by a Mr. Kelley. From this place, he moved to Woodford county, Kentucky, and became a member
of Clear Creek church. After remaining here several years, he moved to what is now Boone county, and united with Bullittsburg church, in 1795. Two years after this, he was ordained a deacon, in this church, and, in June, 1800, was licensed to preach. During the great revival that commenced about this time, he was a zealous and active laborer in the Master's vineyard. In 1804, he moved to Trimble county, and united with Corn Creek church. He was ordained to the ministry, probably in the autumn of the same year. He labored acceptably in the ministry, in Trimble county, about five years. After this, he moved to Indiana, where he died, about 1815. His preaching gifts were moderate, but he was well versed in the scriptures, and was eminent in piety, and devotion to the cause of Christ. He was much beloved by the people, and exerted all his influence for good.
JESSE VAWTER had no direct connection with Corn Creek church. He was a brother of the pious and beloved Philemon Vawter, and was some seven years his senior. He was licensed to exercise his gift by North Fork church in Franklin county, Kentucky, as early as 1803. Soon after this, he was ordained, and became pastor of that church. He joined the Baptists in Virginia, in his youth, probably twenty years before he began to preach. After preaching a short time at North Fork, he moved to Indiana, and settled near Madison, about 1810. Here he became pastor of the church at Madison. Like his brother Philemon, he was greatly beloved, and exercised an extraordinary influence. He was a good preacher, an easy, fluent speaker, and an excellent singer. He was a number of years moderator of Silver Creek Association. He lived to a good old age. JOHN VAWTER was early a member of Long Lick church, in Scott county, Ky. He also moved to Indiana, and settled at Vernon. He became pastor of the church at that place, probably as early as 1815. He was an excellent and honored citizen but too much engrossed with the world to be of much value as a preacher. The stoical Theodrick Boulware says of him: “He was as a man worthy, but as a preacher was not worth one cent. He was postmaster, colonel, marshall of the State, and an ordained minister.” WILLIAM BUCKLEY became the principal preacher in Corn
Creek church, after John Taylor left it. He was raised up to the ministry in Glens Creek church, in Woodford county, where he was licensed as early as 1805, and was ordained within the next two years. About 1816, he moved to Trimble county, and became a member of Corn Creek church. He also preached to two or three other churches in the same region. He possessed good, effective preaching gifts, and a great revival broke out under his ministry. During the years 1818-19, he baptized 135 persons at Corn Creek. But, not withstanding his great success, he soon became unpopular. About 1820, he moved to Livingston county, and united with Union church. Again, after a few years, he moved to Caldwell county, and joined Old Eddy Grove church. He was for a time quite popular in Little River Association, of which he was moderator from 1821 to 1828. He was elected to the same position again in 1833. As a preacher Mr. Buckley gave much satisfaction to his hearers. But as a man he was indolent and improvident, and consequently always very poor. Supplying the necessities of such a man, as the brethren had to supply those of Mr. Buckley, is always an aggravation, even to the most liberal. This speedily rendered him unpopular and involved the necessity of his moving from place to place, even to his old age. He was finally silenced from preaching for drunkenness.
GEORGE KENDALL was the successor of Mr. Buckley, at Corn Creek. He was raised up to the ministry in that church, and, it is believed, spent his life in its immediate neighborhood. He exercised many years, as a licentiate, refusing to be ordained. He, however, submitted to ordination about 1827, and served the church as preacher, a number of years. He was an humble, good man, and was very well versed in the sacred scriptures, but his preaching gifts were feeble.
ARCHER SMITH was the next preacher that served Corn Creek church, and was probably the most efficient minister that has labored among that people since John Taylor left them. His education was limited and his preaching gift was barely up to mediocrity. But his gift in exhortation was very superior, and his zeal and industry in his holy calling, were probably never surpassed in Kentucky.
Archer Smith was the son of William Smith, a shoemaker, and small farmer, and native of Georgia. His mother was a sister
of Deacon Travis Alexander, of Stamping ground church, Scott county, Kentucky. He was consequently a first cousin of the famous Lewis D. Alexander of Owen county. He was born in Union District, South Carolina, January 25, 1796, and came with his parents to Scott county, Kentucky, in 1805. Here he was raised up to hard labor on a farm. In his boyhood he was barely taught to read and write. But after he grewup, he labored for means with which to prosecute his studies, and attended a common school about two years, but did not advance far enough to commence the study of English grammar.
His parents were irreligious, but while attending school, he lived with his uncle Travis Alexander, who and his wife, here pious Baptists. During this period, he attended religious worship at what is now Stamping Ground church. Under the preaching of Theodrick Boulware and William Hickman, he became deeply interested on the subject of religion. "For several months," said he, "I was in deep concern about my soul. I often tried to pray in secret, but feared a holy God would not hear me." On returning with his uncle and aunt from meeting, on one occasion, Mr. Hickman being in the company, asked who Mr. Smith was, and, if he was religious. Mr. Alexander replied that he did not know that he was, but thought he desired to be. Mr. Hickman immediately fell back and commenced a conversation with him. "Young man," began Mr. Hickman, "sometime ago, I had a conversation with a young woman. I told her, if she would agree to pray for herself every day for a week, I would try to pray for her. She consented, and afterward became a Baptist. Now, I am willing to make the same bargain with you." Mr. Smith consented and carried out the contract, with much trepidation and embarrassment; for during that week, he was working with several very wicked young men.
He continued some weeks after that in great trouble. "One night," says he, "I was lying in bed, praying, till a late hour. At last, I suppose I fell into a doze of sleep. There appeared to me in the East, about where the sun would be at ten o'clock, a great multitude of bright beings, more lovely and beautiful than anything I had ever conceived. In the midst of them was Jesus Christ, far more lovely than the rest. I awoke, shouting and praising God. I felt the love of God fill
my soul as sensibly as I feel a drink of cold water when I am thirsty. My burden of guilt and sorrow was all gone, and I felt light and full of joy and peace." This was about the year 1817. Mr. Smith soon fell into doubts as to the genuineness of his conversion, and did not at that time, unite with the church.
In January, 1818, he moved to Owen county, and on the 13th of August of that year, was married to Cynthia, daughter of Hugh Conway. On the 1st Sunday of September following, he was baptized into the fellowship of Twins church, by John Scott. He remained a private member of the church, till 1827, when he was chosen a deacon. During the year 1830, he exhorted in prayer meeting in his neighborhood. These prayer meetings resulted in thirty additions to Emmaus church, and several to Twins. In October, 1831, he was licensed to exercise his gift.
Lewis D. Alexander who had also been exercising in the prayer meeting, was licensed sometime afterward. The labors of the two young preachers were inseparable from this time till 1838. In July 1836, they were both ordained to the ministry, at the same time. They labored together with great zeal, and their labors were much blest.
In 1837 more than thirty were baptized at New Liberty, under their ministry, and the next year, seventy-two were baptized.
In March, 1839, Mr. Smith moved to Jefferson county, Indiana, and settled near a little village called Canaan. There was great destitution of preachers in that region, and he soon became monthly supply for six churches. He gave himself wholly to the work of the ministry with great zeal and energy, preaching, not only to the six churches of which he was pastor, but also in private residences, school houses, and groves. He labored in this field, about eight years. During this period, he constituted five churches -- Mt. Zion, Rykers Ridge, Milton, Union, and Macedonia, and baptized about 650 persons, among whom were Joshua Griffith, Robert Stevenson, A. Pavy, Smith Wingate, Samuel Locke, and Isaac Semple who became Baptist preachers. Meanwhile, he had been so poorly sustained, that he had expended $3,000 more than his income, and was reduced to poverty.
In 1847, Mr. Smith moved back to Kentucky, settled near LaGrange, in Oldham county, and gave his membership to Harrods Creek church, of which he soon afterwards became pastor. He was also called to the churches at Eighteen Mile in Oldham, and Sligo in Henry, retaining the care of Corn Creek church, to which he had been called two years before. He continued to give himself wholly to the work of the ministry. But the churches were more liberal here, and his family was soon above want. In 1849, he moved to Carroll county, and became pastor of Whites Run, Sharon, Carrollton, and Cane Run churches -- the latter in Henry, the others in Carroll county. He also labored as missionary of Concord Association, two years and two months. During this period, he delivered 388 sermons and exhortations, and baptized between 400 and 500 persons. Around Muscle Shoals on Eagle creek, in Owen county, he held several meetings, with remarkable success. At one time, he preached nine days under the shade of a large oak, and one day in the meeting house, and received 37 members. He preached four days in a school house, and baptized 26. Subsequently, he held two meetings in the same neighborhood, and received 75 members.
In 1853, he bought a farm, near Corn Creek church in Trimble county, where he made his home the remainder of his days on earth. The same year, he took charge of four churches, but, next year, gave them all up, and accepted the position of missionary in the bounds of Sulphur Fork Association. In this work, he labored two years, when he again went into the pastoral office. But whatever may have been his nominal position, he was always a missionary, from the time he was licensed to preach, till the Lord called him to his reward.
When the civil war broke out, in 1861, both of his sons entered the southern army. This involved him in much trouble. He was four times arrested, and three times thrust into prison. Here he contracted rheumatism, which maimed him for the remainder of his life. He was hindered from preaching, as much as a year, during the war, which was a great grievance to him. But as soon as he sufficiently recovered, he again entered the field of labor for his Master.
In 1868, his wife died suddenly. Coming home from a night meeting at Old Corn Creek, where she had much enjoyed the
services, and had been actively engaged in comforting and encouraging the mourners, she prepared supper, and sat down to the table with her family and several guests. As she passed out a cup of coffee, with a sudden spasmodic movement, she threw it over her shoulder, fell backwards, and expired in a few moments. Within an hour after she left the altar of prayer, on earth, her spirit took its flight to the altar of praise in heaven.
On the death of his wife, Mr. Smith left his home in charge of one of his sons, went to Owen county, took charge of two churches, and engaged to labor six months in the mission field. During this period, he delivered 325 sermons and exhortations, and received 134 persons for baptism. After this, he took charge of two additional churches. In 1870, he summed up his labors, at the request of a younger preacher, with the following results: During a period of 20 years, he had averaged over a sermon a day. He had baptized over 2,000 persons, and had traveled over 50,000 miles on horseback. He raised nine daughters and two sons, all of whom he baptized with his own hands.
About 1871, Mr. Smith married his second wife. He continued to labor with unabated zeal, till near the close of his earthly life. He died at his home in Trimble county, after a short illness, January 5, 1873. "They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever."
EIGHTEEN MILE church is located in Oldham county, some four miles north of LaGrange. It was gathered by the famous pioneer of that region, William Kellar, and was constituted by William Kellar, Ambrose Dudley and William Payne, September 12, 1800. Mr. Kellar was chosen its pastor, andserved in that capacity till his death, which occurred, November 6, 1817. This church united with Salem Association the same year it was constituted, and remained in that fraternity till 1803, when it entered into the constitution of Long Run Association, with a membership of 82. From this time, till the death of its pastor, in 1817, its growth was slow. At that period, it numbered 110 members. But the following year, under the pastorship of William Buckley, it received 40 by baptism, and its membership was increased
to 149. In 1829, another revival visited the church, under the ministry of John A. McGuire, and 48 were baptized increasing the membership to 193. In 1833, the church withdrew from Long Run Association, and united with Sulphur Fork, of which it is still a member. It enjoyed a revival, in 1843, under the pastorship of D.N. Porter, when 88 were baptized, giving the church a membership of 221. The next revival in this church, was under the ministry of J.S. Dawson, in 1852, at which time 61 were baptized. From its constitution, to 1854, it received by baptism, 429, and from that time to the present, it has enjoyed almost uninterrupted prosperity. It has, during its entire history, been an orderly and influential body. In 1879, it numbered 154 members, and had the venerable E.G. Berry for its pastor. W.W. Force is its present pastor. Of William Kellar, William Buckley, Joel Hulsey and Archer Smith, pastors of this church, sketches have been given in other connections.
JOHN A. MCGUIRE was among the most efficient pastors of Eighteen Mile church. He was a son of the famous pioneer preacher of Henry county, Alan McGuire, and consequently was of Irish extraction. He was born in Henry county, Kentucky, about the year 1800. He received but a limited English education. He was awakened on the subject of religion, at the age of about ten years, by the pious conversation of his parents, and was soon afterwards baptized by his father, into the fellowship of East Fork church, in his native county. By this church, he was licensed to exercise his gift, in 1817. Two years later, he took a letter and joined Sulphur Fork church in the same county. Here he was ordained to the ministry in March, 1827, after having exercised as a licensed preacher, ten years. The following year, a great revival occurred under his ministry and that of J.W. Thomas, and 167 persons were baptized into the fellowship of Sulphur Fork church. He soon afterwards became pastor of this church. He was also called to Eighteen Mile church.
On the 2d Friday in June, 1829, Hillsboro' church, in Henry county was constituted of six members, by J.W. Thomas, Abraham Bohannon, Isaiah Cornelius, and John A. McGuire. Of this church Mr. McGuire became pastor immediately after its constitution, and served it till 1845. He afterward served
this church, from 1850, to 1852. When he left it, it numbered 144 members. Soon after this, W.W. Foree, who was raised up to the ministry in it, took pastoral charge of it, and it has since been one of the best disciplined and most orderly and influential churches in Sulphur Fork Association. J. M. Eaton has recently been ordained to the ministry, in Hillsboro church, and gives promise of usefulness in the Master's vineyard.
Mr. McGuire was, doubtless, pastor of other churches, at different periods. He was a man of active enterprise in the ministry, and was a very successful and valuable preacher in his association. He was a leader in its missionary operations, and a courageous defender of its liberal policy. He was twice arraigned before Sulphur Fork church, "for his conduct in regard to the missionary system," i.e. for encouraging systematic missionary operations. A majority of his church sustained his course in both cases, but the dissatisfaction of the minority led to a rupture in the association, in 1840, and Mt. Pleasant Association of Anti-missionary Baptists was formed of the minority.
In 1845, Mr. McGuire went to Louisiana, and remained two or three years. He then returned to Kentucky, and labored in his old field, till 1852, when he removed to Monroe, Louisiana, and became pastor of the church in that village. He was doubtless useful, in some degree, in his new field of labor, but in no degree approximating his usefulness in Kentucky. It is always a hazardous experiment for a preacher that has been continuously successful in one field of labor, to move to another field where he is unknown, after he passes middle life. In most cases he will find his usefulness much diminished, and he is likely to become discouraged and restless, and in many cases, he spends the evening of his life unhappily.
After laboring in the gospel ministry sixty-two years, the venerable John A. McGuire went to his final reward from his home in Monroe, Louisana.
DOCTOR NEWTON PORTER was one of the pastors of Eighteen Mile church. He has, however, held the pastoral office usually only for a short period, at any one church. He is a physician of high repute, and has an extensive practice. His habit, for many years past, has been to supply vacancies in pastorates, in the churches within his reach, until such churches could procure
other pastors, and, in this way, has been very useful in the field in which he operates. He is a man of extensive reading, and untiring industry. He is well versed in theology, and is a very fair speaker. He has been prominent in most of the public enterprises of his town and county, and is a most valuable citizen. How he can neglect a call from God to preach the gospel, and divide his mind and heart so liberally among a great variety of worldly enterprises, when there is no such necessity laid upon him, must be left for him to answer to his Master.
D. N. Porter, son of Eli Porter of Welsh extraction, and a native of Virginia, was born in Henry county, Kentucky, Jan. 17, 1816. He is one of fourteen children born to poor parents, and could, therefore, obtain an education only by his own energies. He, however, began to teach school before he was sixteen years of age, and made this his occupation sixteen years, during which time he took a literary course at Georgetown College, and read medicine. Afterwards he graduated in medicine, with the honors of his class, in 1851, having previously practiced physic several years.
He professed experimental Christianity, at about the age of thirteen, and was baptized into the fellowship of Campbellsburg church in his native county. By this church he was licensed to preach, in 1839, and ordained in 1841. Soon afterwards, he was called to the care of Eighteen-Mile church. Under his ministry, at this church, an extensive revival prevailed, in 1843, and 88 united with the church by baptism. After this, he was pastor of East church in Louisville two years. On leaving Louisville, he established himself in the practice of medicene at Eminence in Henry county. Here he has supplied various churches within his reach with such pastoral labors as his professional duties would permit. He has served Sulphur Fork Association as clerk eight years, and as moderator four years. He is still engaged in practicing his profession and preaching, at Eminence.
JOSEPH B. PORTER, brother of the above, succeeded D. N. Porter in the pastoral care of Eighteen-Mile church. After preaching a few years to this, and some other churches in Sulphur Fork Association, he moved to Indiana, where he was long a useful minister of Jesus. He has recently moved to Kansas. Another brother, William H. Porter, spent some years
in the ministry, in Ballard county. His gifts were meager, but he was a man of eminent piety. He has been dead several years.
JAMES STEPHEN DAWSON succeeded J. B. Porter as pastor of Eighteen-Mile church. Under his ministry, in 1852, the church received 61 by baptism. He was a timid, quiet man, of grave deportment, and hence not popular among strangers. But he was much beloved by those who knew him well. His pastoral charges were strongly attached to him, and gave him up with great reluctance. He was a sound, substantial preacher of good ability, and was successful as a pastor.
He was the son of Benjamin Dawson, a native of Orange county, Virginia, and was born in Fayette county, Kentucky, December 1, 1815. In early childhood, he was brought by his parents to Henry county, where he was raised up on a farm. He received a good English education, and became a practical surveyor. In 1835, he professed religion under the preaching of John S. Wilson, and united with the church at Newcastle. He afterwards moved his membership to Hillsboro' church in Henry county, where he was ordained a deacon, in April, 1844. The following month, he was licensed to preach, and, in July, 1846, was ordained to the ministry, by E. G. Berry, E. B. Stratton, D. N. Porter, and Smith Thomas. He was called to the care of Hillsboro' and Sligo churches in Henry county, New Providence in Trimble, and Eighteen-Mile in Oldham. He was probably a short time pastor of Liberty church in Oldham. He enjoyed a good degree of success, and the entire confidence of the people, and had laid the foundation for accomplishing a good life work. But he became restless, and, in 1854, moved to Daviess county. From the exposure, incident to settling in a new home, and the more humid and malarial climate of that region, he contracted disease of the lungs, of which he died, August 19, 1857.
ANDREW ELIAS SHIRLEY was pastor of Eighteen-Mile church, from about 1862 to 1878, and it is probable that no pastor of that old fraternity was ever more beloved, or was more deserving of such love. He was the highest type of a Christian. His piety was deep, sincere and unpretending. His whole nature seemed to be suborned to, and pervaded by the Holy Spirit. He talked perpetually of the religion of Jesus Christ, and in such
a manner as to make all who heard him, feel that his heart was overflowing with the love of the Redeemer. His conduct and conversation always made a strong impression in favor of a holy religion, wherever he went. He was never austere. His temperament was warm, and his manner affectionate. He was usually very cheerful, and his humor probably never met its equal. He was the life and joy of every social circle he entered. And yet, his religion so profusely pervaded everything that pertained to him, that the deepest and most lasting impression he made on man, was, that "he was a good man and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith."
Mr. Shirley was an only child, born of wealthy parents, and raised in the city of Louisville. His father dying, while he was an infant, he was left to the care of his mother, who gave him a good education. In early life, he joined the Campbellite church, of which his mother was a member. Arriving at manhood, his health being somewhat delicate, he went to Trimble county, and spent some time with some relatives. Attending a Baptist church, with his kinsfolks, he became deeply convicted of his guilt and depravity in the sight of a holy God. After seeking the Lord earnestly for some time, he was made to rejoice greatly in a sense of "the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost given to him." In applying to Middle Creek church (in Trimble county) for membership, he stood up and related his Christian experience, and closed with a fervent exhortation and an invitation to the unconverted to come forward for prayer. Quite a number came, and he knelt down and prayed for them. Thus began the ministry of that devoted servant of Jesus Christ. He was received into the church, and was baptized, probably by A. M. Ragsdale.
Returning to his home in Louisville, he united with Walnut Street church, where he was ordained to the ministry. He labored some time as missionary in the city, and was instrumental in building, in 1848, a good house of worship for Portland Avenue church. After this, he went to Collin county, Texas, where he spent several months in holding meetings, in which a large number was baptized. Returning to Kentucky, he moved, with his mother, to his farm in Jefferson county. He was soon afterward called to the care of Eighteen Mile, Harrods Creek and Liberty churches, all in Oldham county. In
this field, he labored successfully and with much satisfaction to the churches. He afterwards raised up Falls of Harrods Creek church, in Jefferson county, of which he was chosen pastor. This church was afterwards dissolved. He accepted a call to the church at Mt. Washington, in Bullitt county, where he preached two years. He was also pastor of Westport church in Oldham county, several years.
From early life, Mr. Shirley was subject to seasons of mental depression. Once or twice he was rendered incapable of preaching for several weeks. In 1878, a recurrence of this melancholy ultimated in insanity, from which the best medical skill that could be procured failed to recover him. He was sent to the insane asylum at Anchorage, where he still remains, with little hope of his recovery.
Mr. Shirley was an orator, a poet and a humorist by nature, and a devout christian and earnest preacher by grace. He possessed, if not the highest, yet rare intellectual gifts. He had a familiar acquaintance with the finest prose and poetical writers in the English language. He had a very annoying impediment in his enunciation, which much marred the force and beauty of his sermons, especially when delivered before a strange audience. He was, in his best mood, a good writer, and some of his printed productions were fine models of popular sermons. But above all, he was a good man and true, and left an impression on the people of Oldham county that will not be effaced in one generation.
KING'S CHURCH was at first located in the south-eastern part of Jefferson county, on a small stream called Back Run. The original name of the church was Cane and Back Run. Its location was changed to its present site, in the north-east corner of Bullitt county, and in 1817, it took its present name. It was gathered by William Edmund Waller, Sr., who probably ministered to it from its constitution, in 1800, till 1802. After this, Henson Hobbs became its pastor -- perhaps in 1803. It first united with Salem Association, at its meeting at Long Run meeting-house, in 1801. In 1803, it went into the constitution of Long Run Association. At this period, it numbered fifty-eight members. Its membership declined in numbers till about 1818, when it enjoyed a revival, and increased to seventy-two members. In 1827, under the ministry of Z. Carpenter, twenty-three
were baptized, and its membership increased to onehundred and nine. In 1833, William P. Barnett succeeded John Holland as its pastor, and, from that time, it enjoyed much prosperity for a number of years. In 1839, it was so much agitated en the subject of "the missionary system," that it refused to send messengers to the association. But next year it had decided in favor of missions, and reported to the association a membership of one hundred and sixty-four. This was the highest number it has ever reached. Its largest ingathering, during any one year, was in 1869, when it received thirty-two by baptism. Its revivals have been very frequent, and its course remarkably smooth and even. Its membership in 1880, was one hundred and fifty-five. That excellent minister, T. H. Coleman, was then its pastor. George Marshall was raised up to the ministry in this church, and supplied its pulpit a few months in 1822-23, having been ordained during the latter date. Of its early pastors, W. E. Waller, Henson Hobbs, Z. Carpenter and John Holland, sketches have been given. W. E. Powers is now (1885) its pastor.
WILLIAM PADDOX BARNETT was pastor of King’s church about forty-three years. He was born in Jefferson county, Ky., in 1803. His parents being poor, he received only a limited common school education. He was brought up in the faith of the Methodist church, of which his parents were members. But being early led to Christ among the Cumberland Presbyterians, he identified himself with them, and remained in their fellowship a few years. But becoming interested on the subject of baptism, he was led to adopt the views of the Baptists, upon which he united with the church at Floyd’s Fork, in his native county, and was baptized by Z. Carpenter about 1827. Being soon afterwards liberated to exercise a preaching gift, he was ordained to the ministry in 1829, and immediately called to the care of Floyd's Fork (now Fisherville) church. He grew rapidly in favor with the people, and was soon one of the most popular preachers in Long Run Association. He was soon pastor of four churches, and so continued, most of his time, till the encroachment of old age admonished him to narrow the field of his labors. He was, during a ministry of forty-six years, pastor, at different periods, of Floyd's Fork, Chenowith’s Run, Jeffersontown, Pleasant Grove, and Long Run in Jefferson county;
Buck Creek, in Shelby; Little Union, Plum Creek and Elk Creek, in Spencer; and Mt. Washington and Kings, in Bullitt. To the last named he was called in 1833. To this church he moved his membership, and ministered to it, with the exception of one year, (1859), till he finished his earthly course. He died of a congestive chill, at his home in Jefferson county, September 18, 1876.
As a man, W. P. Barnett was honorable, dignified, conservative and reliable, and commanded the respect and confidence of all who knew him. Few men ever maintained a more faultless christian character. His preaching gifts were not extraordinary. He was sound in the faith of the Gospel, plain and direct inhis manner of address, and thoroughly versed in the sacred scriptures. He enjoyed a good degree of success during his ministry. He was a good pastor, a wise adviser and a safe exampler.
CONCORD church is located in the southern part of Barren county, two or three miles from Big Barren river. It was constituted in 1800, most probably by John Mulky who was its first pastor. It went into the constitution of Green River Association, the same year it was gathered. During the great revival, which immediately followed its constitution, it received large accessions, and in 1802, numbered eighty-two members, having received thirty-one by baptism that year. After this, it increased in numbers very little, till about 1839, when it reached a membership of 144. Up to this period, it appears to have moved on harmoniously. It was an influential church in Green River Association, till 1830, when it entered into the constitution of Barren River Association. For about ten years, it maintained a respectable position in that body. But in 1841, it with five other churches, drew off from Barren River Association, on account of that body's favoring missionary operations, and entered the same year into a small fraternity, now known as original Barren River Association. This untoward movement was under the leadership of Seth Bradshaw, the pastor of Concord church. Mr. Bradshaw afterward became convinced of his error, and returned to the mother Association. This caused a division in Concord church. Both parties organized, and, for several years, the two churches, bearing the same name and professing the same faith (except that they disagreed about
missionary operations) worshiped, on different days, in the same house.
But in 1858, the Missionary church dissolved, and left the Anti-missionary church in possession of the house. It still belongs to the Anti-mission Association.
According to tradition, John Mulky gathered this old church, and preached to it a short time. This tradition is at least highly probable, as he was nearer its location than any other preacher is known to have lived at that period. Something has been said of him elsewhere.
CORNELIUS DUESE was a licensed preacher in this church, as early as 1802, and it is not improbable that he was in its constitution. He was a native of South Carolina, and emigrated to Kentucky, not far from the year 1800, and settled in Barren county. Here he became a member of Concord church, and when Mulky joined the Arians, he having been ordained to the ministry, succeeded to the pastorate. He was also called to the care of Mt. Pleasant church in the same county. He was regarded a good man, was very active and zealous in the ministry, and was much beloved by the people. But he was "unstable in all his ways." He soon followed Mulky to the Arians. When the "Emancipation Association of Baptized Friends of Humanity" was formed, in 1807, he, with John Murphy and John H. Owen became a member of that society, and finally, in his old age, joined the Campbellites. He died at a good old age, about the year 1840.
ISAAC COULSON TRACY, one of the early pastors of Concord church, was the son of Michael Tracy, a native of Ireland, and was born in North Carolina about A.D. 1790. In his early childhood he was carried to Allen county, Kentucky. Here he was brought up to manhood, receiving a better education than was usual for that time and place. About 1811 he went to Indiana and took up his residence. His parents were irreligious, and he grew up a wild, reckless youth. Soon after his arrival in Indiana, violent earthquakes prevailed in that region. Among many others he became much alarmed about the condition of his soul. Ultimately, he professed conversion, and joined the church. About 1815, he returned to Allen county, Kentucky, and united with the church at Puncheon Camp. Here he was put into the ministry, and called to the care of the church. He
was also called to the care of Concord and Caney Fork churches in Barren county. He improved rapidly in speaking, and took rank with the ablest ministers in Green River Association. His churches flourished under his ministry, and by his labors many sinners were led to Christ.
But in the midst of great usefulness and popularity, his mind became wrecked, and he had to be sent to the insane asylum. He partially recovered, and returned to his family. Sometimes he appeared entirely sane, and preached with great clearness and force. But his mind was freakish and could not be relied on. He was before and after his insanity, a man of a very devotional spirit. It was his constant habit to sing a hymn of praise when he awoke in the morning, and before he arose from his bed. He continued to preach, during his lucid seasons, up to the time of his last illness. He died rather suddenly, Nov. 15, 1862.
SETH BRADSHAW succeeded Isaac C. Tracy, in the pastoral care of Concord church. He was the son Allen Bradshaw, and was born in Franklin county, Virginia, August 15, 1795. Here he was brought up on a farm, and received but a very meager education. He emigrated to Barren county, Kentucky, in 1817, and the following year, was married to Judy, daughter of Reuben Harrison.
Mr. Bradshaw was a fine specimen of a Kentucky backwoodsman. He was a large man, of a very powerful frame, possessed of a high sense of honor, and dauntless physical courage. He was regarded "the best man in the county," and in this opinion "none concurred more heartily than himself."
In a new country where much labor and strong muscle are required, to clear away the forests; where danger is to be met by physical courage, and where the land being sparsely settled by unlettered people, the laws of the country are so illy enforced that every man becomes "a law unto himself," a high type of manhood is a most useful, as well as a most honorable attainment. To be "the best man in the county," at the period of Mr. Bradshaw's youth, was a higher ambition, and conferred a much higher honor than "going to the General Assembly." Hence every young man was anxious to be considered a "hoss."
Mr. Bradshaw was proud of his manhood, and embraced
every convenient opportunity to display it. To use his own words, he "would rather fight than to eat, anytime." He was a bold, reckless sinner, and like the unjust judge, "he feared not God nor regarded man." He continued his career of highhanded wickedness, till he was about thirty years of age. But the spirit of the Lord can find way to the stoutest heart. Mr. Bradshaw felt and acknowledged the power of divine grace. He was baptized into the fellowship of Concord church by Isaac C. Tracy, about the year 1825, His conversion was very marked. He immediately began to call on his associates to repent and turn to God. Although he was a poor speaker, he possessed good judgment and an earnest manly zeal, and his gift appeared to such manifest advantage, that he was soon ordained to the ministry, and called to the care of Concord church. He was also called to the care of Poplar Log, Glovers Creek and Puncheon Camp churches. These churches prospered under his ministry and he enjoyed a good degree of success in his general labors, for a number of years. But about 1813, the subject of systematic missionary operations began to agitate the the churches of Barren River Association, of which Concord was a member. Mr. Bradshaw was a man of marked influence, and, being uninformed on the subject of missionary operations, he became the leader of the Anti-missionary party. When the split in the Association occurred, in 1841, he identified himself with the Anti-missionary Association. By that means he lost his influence outside of the small faction of which he was the leader.
After several years, he became better informed on the subject, acknowledged his error, and returned to the missionary body. He continued to preach till near the close of his life, but never regained his former influence among the people.. His last moments were spent with the most joyful anticipations of heavenly bliss. He seemed already to have entered the joys of heaven before he quitted the pains of earth. He left the scenes of mortality, May 20, 1860.
BOGGS FORK church was located in the eastern part of Fayette county. It was first called Boffman's Fork church of Separate Baptists, and belonged to Old South Kentucky Association. The earliest mention of it, on any accessible record, was in 1799, when there was an unsuccessful attempt made to unite it and Boones Creek church of Regular Baptists in one body.
The next year, it united with Tates Creek Association of United Baptists. At this time, it numbered 22 members, among whom were Squire Boone, Jun., Roger Jones and James Bentley. During the next year, it enjoyed a great revival, and 100 were added to its membership. It now (1801) numbered 122 members. Soon after this, it built a good stone house, for that period, on a small stream, from which its second name was derived, some two miles south of the present village of Athens. At this house, Tates Creek Association, met in 1806, and again, in 1817. At the former date, the church numbered only 88 members. In 1823, it entered into the constitution of Boones Creek Association, which was formed at its meeting house, the fourth Friday in April, of that year. It remained a member of that body till 1840, when it accepted the proposition which had been made to it by Boones Creek church, 41 years before. These two churches united in one, built the present Baptist meeting house at Athens, and retained the name of Boones Creek church. At the time of this union, Boggs Fork numbered about 66, and Boones Creek, about 96 members.
SQUIRE BOONE, JR., appears to have been the first pastor of Boggs Fork church, and it is probable that he was instrumental in gathering it. He was a native of North Carolina, and was the son of Squire Boone, Sen., and a nephew of the famous Kentucky hunter and explorer, Daniel Boone. His father was a Baptist preacher, as were his son and three of his grand sons. Squire Boone, Jr., was among the early settlers of Madison county, where he united with Tates Creek church of Separate Baptists. In this church he was licensed to exercise a preaching gift, as early as 1790. Towards the close of the century, he moved to Fayette county, where he became pastor of Boggs Fork church. He is supposed to have been a preacher of very moderate gifts. It is not known that he was pastor of any church except Boggs Fork. He died about 1820. There is, at hand, no means of knowing who were the subsequent pastors of this church.
There was some good work accomplished in the cause of Christ during the year 1800, dark and gloomy as was the beginning of that period. Of the six churches, ascertained to have been constituted during the year, a majority are strong,
influential bodies, and all of them, still have an existence. It will be observed that four of them were planted along the northern border of the State. Here appeared the first gleamings of the approaching revival, at least among the Baptists, and, as in the first revival that ever occurred in Kentucky, in 1785, so also the greatest revival that has ever occurred among the Baptists in this State, began to be manifested under the labors of John Taylor, who aided in gathering three, if not four, of the six churches, constituted in 1800.
We have now come to the close of the eighteenth century. We have followed the footsteps of our fathers, for nearly 25 years, as they endured all hardshipsand dared all dangers, to plant the standard of the Cross in the great wilderness, which has now become a land of beauty, dotted all over with our own charming homes, and made glad with the voice of song, echoing from more than a thousand churches of the Redeemer. We have noted the planting, and traced the history, of 116 churches, and sketched the lives of about 250 of the laborers. Several of the churches were dissolved, and one (and possibly three others of the laborers had died, before the close of the century.
At the close of the year 1800, in Kentucky there were six associations, six churches belonging to Mero District Association of Tennessee, and three unassociated churches, and an aggregate membership of about 5,119, as shown in the following table:Associations No. of churches No. of members Elkhorn, 26 1642 South Kentucky, 182 11342 Salem, 22 497 Tates Creek, 12 579 Bracken, 10 623 Green River, 9 350 Mero District, 6 2342 Unassociated, 3 602 Total, 106 5119
In 1790, there were, in the State, three associations, 42 churches and 3,105 members. At that date, the population of the State was 73,677. This gave one Baptist church, in round
numbers, to every 1,754 of the population, and one Baptist to every 23 of the population.
In 1800, the population of the State was 220,955, while there were in the State six Baptist Associations, 106 churches and 5,119 members. This gave one Baptist church to every 2,084 of the population, and one Baptist to every forty-three of the population.
These figures show a falling off of nearly loo per cent in the number of the Baptists in Kentucky, in proportion to the population of the State, during the period extending from 1790, to 1800. The statistics of the other religious denominations, for the periods specified, are not accessible at present, and perhaps cannot be procured, at all, but it is probable that the falling off among them was equal to that among the Baptists. Such was the religious condition of the people of Kentucky, just at the beginning of one of the greatest revivals of religion that ever occurred in modern times. We shall watch the rise, progress, and results of this mighty work of God, with deep and reverential interest. But before entering upon this new era of our religious history, we may bring under brief review some of the customs, ceremonies, opinions and doctrinal differences that prevailed among the fathers of our denomination in the western country. We shall feel a deeper interest in all that occurred among the pioneers of the Cross in Kentucky, now that we have become familiar with the names, locations and history of the old churches, and acquainted ourselves with the noble old moral heroes who laid their foundations in the midst of bloody and fearfully cruel savage warfare, and privations of which we, their happy descendants, can have scarcely a remote conception. ___________________
1 Recent investigation has convinced me that it was Joshua L. Morris, another man.
2 Estimated. ===============
[John Henderson Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists, 1885; rpt. CHR&A, 1984.]
Kentucky Baptist Church Histories
Baptist History Homepage