Education -- The War and its Consequences -- Transactions of the Decade Ending with 1870
The cause of religion, in the Baptist denomination in Kentucky, had seldom or never been more prosperous, in a healthy growth of its churches and benevolent institutions, than at the beginning of the year 1861. Nearly twenty years of almost uninterrupted prosperity in both temporal and spiritual affairs, had given the people the disposition and the means to promote the cause of Christian benevolence as they had never been able to do before. The cause of education had received especial attention. In 1848, just after the citizens of the commonwealth had voted to levy a tax of two cents on the one hundred dollars for common school purposes, the Baptist State Ministers Meeting, at their annual meeting, at Bowling Green, appointed John L. Waller, and J. M. Pendleton a "committee to report on the best plan for diffusing education in the State." The committee made the following report, which was adopted:
"WHEREAS, We consider the subject of education vastly important, involving as it does interests which are inferior only to those that are spiritual and eternal; and
WHEREAS, An overwhelming majority of the voters of the State have decided that two cents shall be levied on every hundred dollars worth of property for the promotion of the cause of common schools throughout the commonwealth; and WHEREAS, It has been represented to this meeting that efforts have been made to establish sectarian schools [at the public expense] in many parts of the State, therefore Resolved, That we feel and cherish a deep solicitude for the educational interests of the country. Resolved, That the establishment and successful operation
of the system of common schools would afford us the sincerest gratification.
Resolved, Further, that we heartily disapprove and condemn the inculcation of sectarian peculiarities in schools, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, and that such a course is more inconsistent and inexcusable in Protestants than in Catholics, militating as it does, against the principles of Protestantism."
At the same period, the General Association of Kentucky Baptists,
Resolved, That . . . this Association would be pleased to see good academies established at several important points in the State, especially in the southern part of the State."
These resolutions expressed the sentiment and feeling of the denomination, and were not fruitless. High schools were erected in the towns and villages, in different parts of the State so rapidly, that in 1855, the Executive Board of the General Association reported the following institutions, all in a flourishing condition: Bethel High School, located in Russellville, Georgetown Female College, Henry Female College, located at New Castle, Bethel Female College, at Hopkinsvflle, New Liberty Female College, Maysville Female College, Kentucky Female College, at Shelbyville, Kentucky Female Institute, in Louisville, Eclectic Female High School, at Columbia, Glasgow Female High School and Lafayette Female College. Besides these, a number of the High Schools, both male and female located in different parts of the State were in a more or less flourishing condition. Most of these institutions were in a prosperous condition, in 1861. During the war, they were generally suspended, and several of them were not revived after its close. Three of them, however, have continued to occupy the position of first-class schools to the present time, and demand a somewhat more extended notice.
GEORGETOWN FEMALE SEMINARY is the oldest Baptist institution of the kind in the State. It was established by Prof. J. E. Farnham, in 1845, and has been from the beginning, a school of high grade. It was under the principalship of Prof. Farnham from its establishment till 1865, when its commodious buildings were destroyed by fire. Prof. J. J. Rucker, then opened the school in his private residence, and gave it personal superintendence until he secured the services of Rev. J. B. Tharp to fill the
position a brief period. In 1869, new buildings having been erected for the use of the Seminary, Prof. Rucker was again elected its principal and has occupied the position to the present time. Under his management, as well as that of Prof. Farnham, the school has been one of the most popular, and best patronized female seminaries in the State.
JONATHAN EVERETT FARNHAM, the founder and, for twenty years, the Principal of Georgetown Female Seminary, was born in Massachusetts, Aug. 12, 1809. He graduated with the degree of A. B. at Colby University, in 1833. He filled the position of tutor in the University two years. He then studied law three years at Providence, Rhode Island. Coming West, he stopped a short time in Cincinnati. In 1838, he was elected Professor of Physical Science in Georgetown College, and has continued to fill that Chair to the present time, a period of more than 44 years. In early life he professed the religion of Jesus and united with the Baptists. He has been a faithful and honored church member, and has been closely identified with all the leading interests of the Baptist denomination in Kentucky, more than forty years. Being somewhat more latitudinarian in his views of church polity, than the generality of Southern Baptists, he has been led into some newspaper controversies on that subject. He has generally written over the nom de plume of "Layman," by which signature he is known to the Baptists of Kentucky as a writer of no mean ability. But the strength of his abilities has been devoted to his profession. He is a man of profound and varied learning, and well deserves the title of LL. D., with which he is honored.
JAMES JEFFERSON RUCKER, a native of Randolph county Missouri, and son of Thornton Rucker, a pioneer Baptist preacher of that region, was born Jan. 27, 1828. He was raised up on his father’s farm, with meager opportunities of acquiring the simplest rudiments of a common school education. At the age of nineteen, he entered a country school. From this period till the Spring of 1852, he spent his time in attending different schools, and in teaching. At the last named date, he came to Kentucky and entered Georgetown College, where he graduated with the degree of A. B., and with the honors of his class, in 1854. He then taught school in Bourbon county, till the fall of 1855, when he was chosen Principal of the Academy connected
with Georgetown College. A vacancy occurring in the Chair of Mathematics, he was selected to fill that Chair in the College, in November, 1855. He was formally elected to that position the following June, and has continued to fill it to the present time. He has been one of the most active and efficient members of the faculty.
During the session of the Kentucky Legislature, of 1875-6, he procured, from that body, a charter for the Students' Association of Georgetown College, the object of which was to take charge of, and increase a fund of $15,000, which he, with the aid of Prof. Dudley (now President Dudley) had raised for the purpose of endowing a chair in the College, exclusively with funds contributed by the former students. The Association is progressing with the work, and it is hoped the chair will speedily be endowed.
Prof. Rucker became a Baptist in early youth, and has been an active worker in the interests of his denomination. He has taken a special interest in Sunday schools, and was instrumental in organizing the Baptist Sunday School Convention of Elkhorn Association, which claims to have been the first institution of the kind in Kentucky. He was Chairman of the Sunday School Board of the General Association a number of years. In all the capacities in which he has labored, in the interest of education and religion, he has displayed much zeal, energy, and industry, with a life of spotless purity andintegrity. It is hoped he will yet live many years to bless his race in the pious use of his fine abilities.
BETHEL FEMALE COLLEGE, located at Hopkinsville, was erected under the auspices of Bethel Baptist Association. The buildings cost about $30,000. It was chartered by the Kentucky Legislature, in 1854, and opened as a boarding school for girls in 1856. Dr. W. F. Hill occupied the Presidency the first year. He was succeeded by Prof. J. W. Rust, who remained in office till 1864. Dr. T. G. Keen then took charge of the College for a short time. He was succeeded by M. G. Alexander, and he by J. F. Dagg. In 1874, Prof. Rust was recalled to the Presidency, and has occupied the position to the present time. The exercises of the College were suspended two years during the War. With this exception, the Institution has been genererally prosperous, the average attendance of students being
about too. The course of instruction is designed to promote the higher education of women. It embraces the Ancient and Modern Languages, Natural Science, Mathematics, Music and Art, as well as a thorough drill in Elementary English and Belles Letters. The school is situated in the midst of a wealthy, refined and highly moral community, and takes rank with the first institutions of the kind in the country.
JACOB WARD RUST A.M. was born of poor parents, in Logan Co. Ky , Feb. 14, 1819. He was brought up on a farm, having attended school only thirteen months, previous to the age fifteen. At this early age, he resolved to qualify himself to teach. The poverty of his parents was a great obstacle in the way of carrying out this laudable purpose. But he possessed courage, energy and extraordinary natural abilities. By close application, he made such attainments, that he commenced teaching school, in 1837, at the age of eighteen. Three years later, he became Principal of Mt. Carmel Academy, and occupied the position till 1844. By this time he had established a reputation as a superior teacher. Subsequently, he was placed at the head of Springfield Academy, Clarksville Female Academy and Lafayette Female Institute, successively. His connection with Bethel Female College has been noticed above. In 1864, he was elected President of Bethel College, over which he presided four years, with extraordinary success, when he resigned on account of failing health. In 1869, he became associated with R. M. Dudley, as co-editor and part owner of the Western Recorder. He gave a high degree of satisfaction to his readers, during the two years he was connected with the paper. After severing his connection with the Western Recorder, he accepted the position of Financial Agent for the Baptist Orphan’s Home, in Louisville. In 1874, he was recalled to the Presidency of Bethel Female College, as related above.
President Rust possesses extraordinary versatility of talent. He has succeeded well in every position he has occupied. He has been a good worker in the Master's vineyard, having become a Baptist in early life. He is a ready writer and speaker, an excellent educator, and a good financier, and, above all, he enjoys the confidence and affection of his brethren in Christ, in a high degree.
THOMAS G. KEEN has been connected with the Baptists of
Kentucky more than half of his ministerial life. His brief connection with Bethel Female College, and his long connection with the Baptist church at Hopkinsville, the seat of that Institution of learning, affords an apology for placing a sketch of his life in this connection. He was born in Philadelphia, Pa., Nov. 4, 1815, and was educated at what is now known as Madison University. He came South in his young manhood, and is one of the few survivors of those who were present at the constitution of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky. He was ordained to the gospel ministry in the First Baptist Church of Nashville, Tenn., in 1840, Dr. Howel being pastor at the time. In 1841, he accepted a call to the pastoral charge of the Baptist church at Hopkinsville, Ky. From Hopkinsville, he went to Maysville, in March, 1846, and preached to the church at that place one year. During that period, he succeeded in healing a grievous division in the church, caused by the imprudence of Gilbert Mason, the former pastor. In March, 1847, Mr. Keen accepted a call to the Second Baptist Church in Louisville. He was pastor of this church about two years. In 1849, he took charge of the church in Mobile, Ala., and served it about six years. In 1855, he accepted a call to the First Baptist Church in Petersburg, Va. He served this church nine years. In 1864, he returned to Hopkinsville, Ky., and has continued to serve the church in that place to the present time.f222 In 1848, Georgetown College conferred on him the degree of A. M. Subsequently Bethel College conferred the degree of D. D. on him. Few men wear the latter title more appropriately. He is emphatically a teacher of divinity.
As a preacher, Dr. Keen has few superiors; and few men have been more exclusively devoted to preaching the gospel. He is naturally modest and retiring in his disposition. This renders him uneasy, and gives him a disagreeable bluntness, in deliberative assemblies, which does his real kindness of heart great injustice. The same cause has prevented his visiting his flock at their homes, which has been the grounds of much complaint among them. But, in company with a few congenial friends, the great preacher displays those pleasing social qualities which charm all who have the privilege of his society under such circumstances.
BETHEL COLLEGE was established under the auspices of Bethel Baptist Association. It originated in a felt necessity for better educational facilitiesthan then existed in the southern part of the State. The General Association, at its annual meeting, in Bowling Green, in October, 1848, "Resolved, That this Association would be pleased to see good academies established at several important points in this State, especially in the southern part of the State." The following September, Bethel Association, at its meeting in Hopkinsville, adopted a report on education, written by Samuel Baker, in which the following language occurs: "The prosperity of the Baptists as a denomination, demands that they should, equally, with other religious denominations, anticipate the moral and intellectual wants of the community by laying deep and broad the foundations of seminaries of learning. And much good can be accomplished by establishing institutions in which the youth shall be properly taught the principles of science and literature, and in which they shall receive sound instruction in moral and religious duties." It was resolved that this Association immediately take steps to erect a High School within its bounds. A call was made for a meeting to convene at Keysburg, on the 14th of the following November, "in order to raise funds for the establishment of said institution, and to locate the same."
The meeting at Keysburg failed to accomplish the end proposed, and referred the matter to the next Association. The committee on education obtained, through their agent, Elder William I. Morton, subscriptions to the enterprise, amounting to $3,500. The next Association, which met in Russellville, in September, in 1850, determined by a unanimons vote to locate the school at Russellville. The Association appointed a Board of Trustees, of which E. M. Ewing was Chairman, and J. M. Pendleton, Secretary. The first act of the Board was to appoint N. Long its financial Agent. He agreed to serve without compensation, and succeeded in raising nearly $8,000. Forty acres of land were secured in the suburbs of Russellville, and Mr. Long was appointed to superintend the erection, on it, of suitable buildings for the use of Bethel High School. To Bethel Association, at its meeting, in 1852, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, reported that the building was rapidly going up; that it would cost about $15,000, and that the success of the
enterprise was due chiefly to the untiring labors of Brother N. Long.
In January, 1853, B. T. Blewett, who had been Principal of the preparatory department of Georgetown College, was induced to take charge of Bethel High School, which, as yet, existed only in prospect. At that time the grounds had been paid for, and the walls of the commodious building, which is still occupied by Bethel College, had been erected and put under roof; all at a costof about $10,000. This had exhausted all the means which had been collected. The whole enterprise was now placed in the hands of Mr. Blewett, who, at once, gave a contractor his obligation for $6,000, to finish the building, and immediately took the field as an agent to raise the money. The field had been thoroughly canvassed before, and the agent found it difficult to induce men, who supposed they had already discharged their duty in this matter, to contribute a second time to the same enterprise. But he had determined to succeed, and no discouragement could damp his ardor, or check his energy. He spent twelve months in the work, devoting to it, not only the hours of daylight, but as much of the night as he could make available.
By the first of January, 1854, the building was finished and furnished, at the cost of about $8,000 (in addition to the $10,000, expended before Mr. Blewett took charge of it) for all of which the Principal, Mr. Blewett, was personally responsible, and no inconsiderable part of which he paid out of his own private funds.
On the third of January, 1854, the new building was formally opened, with appropriate exercises. Elder J.M. Pendleton delivered an address on education, on the occasion, which was subsequently published in pamphlet form. The first session of the school comprised a class of twenty-five young men. Mr. Blewett employed a competent teacher as his assistant, whose salary absorbed the entire income of the young Institution. The session closed, in June, 1854. The Principal had now labored eighteen months without a salary. He was pressed with the debts of the Institution, and his available funds were exhausted. He had staked his small private fortune on the success of the enterprise, which now appeared to him almost hopeless. However, he entered the field as agent for the school, and spent
the vacation in soliciting means to relieve the Institution of debt, and students to fill its class rooms. The session, commencing, September, 1854, opened with an increased number of students, which gave but slight relief to the embarrassments of the Institution. Local jealousies and sectarian prejudices had arrayed against the school a formidable opposition. To reconcile the opposition arising from local jealousy, Bethel Association had, in 1853, resolved to establish a Female High School in Hopkinsville, at a cost of $15,000. This may have appeased the jealousy of the community of which Hopkinsville was the centre, but it also diverted to the new enterprise, the means with which the Russellville school had been expected to succeed. Bethel High School continued to be heavily pressed with debt, and severely taxed the unconquerable energy of Mr. Blewett, to keep it from sinking.
In September, 1855, the school opened with 125 students. A brighter hope of success began to dawn. Creditors were, for the most part, reasonably indulgent, but a few of them sued for their claims. Three teachers were now employed, besides the Principal, and the school soon acquired a good reputation. Its prosperity, and the influence exerted on the popular mind by the superior education of its well selected teachers, induced the belief that there was need of a college, under the auspices of of the Baptists, in Southern Kentucky. Accordingly, application was made to the Legislature, and a charter was obtained, March 6, 1856, by which Bethel High School became Bethel College. Mr. Blewett, whose course, as Principal and Agent of the High School, had received the highest commendation, was made President of the college. An able corps of professors was secured to fill the chairs of Mathematics, Latin, Greek and, subsequently, of Natural Science. The college soon obtained a high degree of popular favor, which was evinced by the enrollment of 150 students. But prosperous as the institution was, it was soon found impossible to sustain a full corps of competent professors, from the tuition fees alone. It was determined by the Trustees, December 15, 1857, to make an effort to raise an endowment of $30,000. President Blewett was appointed agent to raise this amount. He succeeded in obtaining subscriptions, amounting to about $13,000, to be paid on condition that the whole amount should be secured. Meanwhile, H.Q. Ewing,
who died about the year 1858, bequeathed to the college $10,000, unconditionally, and real estate, valued at $10,000, on condition that the $30,000 which had been asked for, should be raised within five years. In 1859, judge E.M. Ewing, who had previously deeded to the college 80 acres of land, lying near Chicago, donated $3,000 to the endowment fund. On the fourth of July of this year, the Secretary of the Board was directed to advertise in the Russellville Herald, that the $30,000 subscription had been completed, and to call for the payment of all dues conditioned thereon.
In April, 1860, a Theological Department was established in the college, and Rev. W.W. Gardner was elected to fill the professorship of Biblical and Pastoral Theology. An ordinance was passed the same year, by which the sons of ministers, actively engaged in the duties of their calling, were admitted to the college without tuition fees, as young men preparing for the ministry had been admitted from the beginning.
At the beginning of the year 1861, the college was in an eminently prosperous condition. It had a full and able faculty, and nearly 150 students. It possessed a cash endowment of over $40,000, besides real estate, valued at more than twice that amount. But the excitement, consequent on the political condition of the country, became so great that the young men could no longer be kept in school, and, in May of that year, the college was virtually disbanded. In the summer of 1861, President Blewett resigned, and the college buildings were used for hospital purposes till 1863. In September of this year, the college was reopened under the presidency of Rev. George Hunt. In 1864, J. W. Rust waschosen president. Under his administration the institution attained a degree of prosperity almost equal to that which it enjoyed at the beginning of the War. But failing health induced him to resign, February 1, 1868. He was succeeded by Noah K. Davis. In 1872, the President’s house was built, at a cost of $7,000. In 1873, President Davis resigned to take the chair of Moral Philosophy in the University of Virginia, and the discipline of the college was committed to Prof. Leslie Waggener, Chairman of the Faculty. In 1876-7, the N. Long Hall was erected, at a cost of $20,000, for the purpose of supplying cheap board to such students as chose to avail themselves of its advantages. Professor Waggener
was elected President in 1877, and filled that position till 1882, when he resigned.
Bethel college is now among the most prosperous institutions of learning in the Mississippi Valley. The Faculty numbers five professors and two tutors. Its buildings are commodious and substantial, and its grounds are ample and handsomely adorned. It has a strong, influential patronage, and an endowment of about $200,000.
SAMUEL BAKER, who conceived and first advocated the scheme of erecting Bethel college, deserves to be held in remembrance, in connection with that valuble institution. He was born in Sussex county, England, October 2, 1812. He received his early education in his native country, and then engaged in merchandising. In 1834, he came to the United States, and, settling at Upper Alton, Illinois, he entered Shurtleff college, and spent three years in the Literary and Theological classes of that institution. He was licensed to preach, in 1834, and after finishing his collegiate course, was ordained to the full work of the ministry, at Athens, Illinois, in 1837. He preached about two years at Cape Girardeau, Mo. In 1839, he accepted a call to Shelbyville, Kentucky, where he was pastor about two years. In 1841, he accepted a call to the church in Russellvile, Kentucky, where he remained five years. From 1846, to 1850, he served the church at Hopkinsville. In 1849, he read a report on education, before Bethel college. In 1853, he made a speech before the same association, at its meeting in Clarksville, Tennessee, in which he discussed the importance of having a Female High School, within the bounds of that Fraternity, in such a manner as to produce immediate action, on the part of the association, which resulted in the establishment of Bethel Female College, at Hopkinsville, Ky.
From 1850, to 1853, Mr. Baker was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn. During this period, he received the degree of D.D. from Union University. From 1853 to 1865, he was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Williamsburg, N.Y. During the next seven years, he was pastor respectively of Wabash Avenue Church, Chicago, Ill., the Baptist Church at Evansville, Ind. and Hirkirmer Street Baptist Church, in Brooklyn, N.Y. In 1872, he was again called
to the Church, at Russeleville, Ky., where he still remains.1
Dr. Baker possesses a high order of talent for the pulpit. He was well educated, owns a fine library, and has an extensive and accurate knowledge of books.
NIMROD LONG ESQ., to whom Bethel College owes its financial prosperity more than to any other man, was born in Logan Co., July 31, 1814. He received a common school education in his native county. At the age of fourteen years, he entered a dry goods store, in Russellville, as clerk. Three years later, he became a partner in the house. Soon after this, the senior partner died, and Mr. Long took his brother into the partnership. He followed merchandising, about twenty years. Since that period, he has engaged in various branches of business, as banking, dealing in tobacco, live stock and real estate, and in the manufacture of flour, in all of which, he has been abundantly successful.
Mr. Long united with the Baptists at an early age, and has exhibited the fruits of Christianity, in all the relations of life. While, by his excellent business capacity and fine energy, he has amassed a large fortune, he has, with equal diligence, used his business qualities to advance the cause of Christ. He has been Treasurer of the Church at Russellville, about forty-five years, and has so managed its resources, that it has promptly met all its financial obligations. He was the first financial agent of the Board of Trustees of Bethel High School, now Bethel College. He collected about $8,000 of the first $10.000 of the money, neccessary to its establishment. He secured its beautiful grounds, contracted for putting up its first buildings, and superintended their erection-all without compensation. As Treasurer of the Board of Trustees, he has so skillfully managed the funds of the College, that it now has a permanent endowment of $200,000, being himself one of the largest contributors to its funds. In 1870, he endowed the Chair of English from his own private fortune. In honor of the generous donor the Trustees gave this Chair the name of the N. Long Professorship. In 1876, he conceived the idea of building a boarding hall on the College grounds, for the purpose of furnishing students with cheap board. The idea was promptly carried out,
and a building, capable of accommodating one hundred young men, was erected, at a cost of $20,000, and, in honor of the philanthropic projector, is called the N. Long Hall.
Mr. Long is as diligent in all the little duties of every day Christian life, as in the larger schemes of practical benevolence. He has been a faithful deacon in his church, since 1843; he superintends the Sunday School, and is prompt in his attendance on all the meetings of his church.
JUDGE EPHRAIM M. EWING, one of the most liberal benefactors of Bethel College, was a son of Gen. Robert E. Ewing, an officer in the American Revolution, and was born in Davidson county, Tenn., Dec. 4, 1789. After obtaining a good literary education, he was trained in the law school of Transylvania University. He located in Russellville, Ky., and rapidly rose to eminence in his profession. After holding the office of Commonwealth's Attorney, under the distinguished judge Broadnax, a number of years, and being a member of the Legislature several times, he was appointed one of the judges of the Court of Appeals, in 1835, and, in 1843, he became Chief justice of that Court. In 1850, he was appointed, by Gov. Crittenden, one of the Commissioners, to revise the statues of Kentucky. He was Presidential elector, in 1821, and in 1833. He was a good business man, and acquired a handsome fortune of which he made a worthy use.
Judge Ewing was a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and was reckoned a man of sincere piety. His life well exemplified the holy religion of the Lord Jesus. He proved himself a friend to education, by his munificent donations to Bethel College. He died June, 11, 1860, having survived all his posterity. He raised only two children, Presley U. Ewing, and Henry Q. Ewing, both of whom adopted the profession of their father. They both united with the Baptist Church at Russtllville, and the younger, at least, lived and died a most worthy member of that Fraternity.
PRESLEY UNDERWOOD EWING was the elder son of judge E.M. Ewing, and was born in Russellville, Kentucky, Sep. 1, 1822. He was educated at Center College, and graduated in the Law school of Transylvania University, in 1842. Having made a profession of religion, and united with the Baptist church, about this time, he resolved to abandon the law, and
devote his life to the Christian ministry. He was licensed to preach, in April, 1845, and was soon afterwards invited to become the pastor of the Second Baptist church in Louisville. He accepted the call; but after preaching a Sabbath or two, he resolved to go to Germany, and spend some time in study. He returned, in 1848, but no longer in the character of a gospel preacher. He was supposed to have become skeptical on the subject of religion. He entered on a brilliant political career, and gave himself much to worldly pleasure. He was in the Kentucky Legislature, from 1848 to 1851. In 1851, he was elected to Congress, over Beverly L. Clark, and, in 1853, reelected without opposition. Few men in this Country have attained so high a distinction at so early an age. But, alas! how brief were the honors, and how fleeting the pleasures, for which he exchanged the service of the living God. He died of cholera, at the Mammoth Cave, September 27, 1854.
HENRY QUINCY EWING, ESQ., the younger son of judge E. M. Ewing, graduated in law, and made a brilliant debut at the bar. But his health failing, perhaps from too long and close confinement to study, he purchased a small farm, and divided his time between superintending its cultivation and the study of literature. He was a young man of brilliant intellect, and, being thoroughly educated, and passionately fond of books, he collected an excellent library, and made extraordinary attainments in general knowledge. He was a devoted Christian, and a philanthropist, in the best and highest sense of that term. He was not only a warm friend of education in general, and a liberal patron of Bethel College, but he was a valuable friend to all the students in that Institution, who aspired to useful knowledge. He was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the College, and his wisdom and extensive influence did much to promote the prosperity of the Institution. His extensive library was open to the free use of the young men in the College, and no one of them went to him for instruction in vain. He taught, with pious enthusiasm, a large class of young men in Sabbath school. He was devotedly loved by all classes of his acquaintances, but especially by the young men of the village and the College, who felt that they were never without a friend while "Quincy Ewing" was among them. But his frail body could not long contain his great soul. He saw his end approaching,
and calmly arranged his earthly affairs, disposing of his fortune, as he had disposed of his time and talent, for the benefit of young men. An account of his bequest to Bethel College has been given above, in the history of that Institution. He died of dyspepsia, about the beginning of the year 1858.
BENJAMIN T. BLEWETT was born in Warren county, Kentucky, September 17, 1820. His early life was spent, alternately, on the farm and in school, until about his thirteenth year, after which he taught the younger members of his family, during the winter, and went to school during the spring and summer. Until his seventeenth year, he attended only such schools as the neighborhood afforded, having advanced in the elementary studies and given some attention to Latin. When about eighteen years old, he was admitted to the school of Joshua Pillsberry, under whose instructions he was prepared for College. In his twentieth year, he made a profession of religion, united with a Baptist church, and immediately abandoned his cherished purpose to read law, and, with an earnest conviction that it was his duty to preach, he determined to have a collegiate education. With his father’s permission, but without any manifestation of his sympathy in the undertaking, with about ,400, he entered the Freshman Class in Georgetown College, in August, 1841. His money was expended at the end of his sophomore year. He then entered the academy, connected with the College, as Principal, at a salary of $350 a year, and retained the position two years, when he again entered the College, andgraduated, in 1846. After graduating, he again took charge of the academy, receiving the tuition fees for his salary. By his indefatigable energy, the number of students in the academy was greatly increased, and the position became remunerative. In 1848, he married Miss Hedge of Augusta, Maine, who, at that time, was a teacher in a young ladies Seminary in Georgetown. By the aid of friends, he purchased Dr. Malcom’s residence, and filled the house with boarders — college students. In January, 1853, he resigned his position in the academy, sold his property, and moved to Russellville, where he took charge of Bethel High School. Here he found scope for his almost miraculous energy. The position was a most difficult one. The whole enterprise was placed in his hands. The sum of $8,000, with which to complete the building, was to be raised in a field
which had already been thoroughly canvassed. Students were then to be brought into the school in the face of strong opposition, arising from causes before mentioned. But Mr. Blewett was equal to the emergency. He gave his note for $6,000 (perhaps the full amount of his private fortune) to secure the finishing of the building. He then entered the field to collect the means he had given his note for. A year of incessant toil so far completed the work that the building, finished and furnished, was formally dedicated to learning and religion, January 3, 1854. Twenty-five students were all that could be got into the school the first session. The prospect continued gloomy another year, which was another year of unremitting toil. But the reward of diligent labor came at last. In September, 1855, the school year opened with a hundred and twenty-five students. One year of success in conducting the High School so encourged Mr. Blewett, that he began to contemplate an effort to supply the felt want of a Baptist college in Southern Kentucky. The trustees of the High School concurred with him. Accordingly a new charter was obtained, in March, 1856, by which Bethel High School was transformed into Bethel College, and Mr. Blewett, the Principal of the former, became President of the latter. Under his prudent and energetic management, the College was prosperous from the beginning, until May, 1861, when it was closed, temporarily, by the War. During this year, President Blewett, seeing no hope of re-opening the College for some time to come, resigned his position, and went to another field of labor. When a few more years shall have passed away, it will be difficult for the Baptists of Southern Kentucky to realize the extent to which they are indebted to President Blewett for their noble College, or the sacrifices he made to build it up. For a period of more than eight years, in the prime of his manhood, he devoted, with extraordinary singleness of purpose, his vigorous and highly cultivated mental powers, his unsurpassed physical energies, his stoical powers of endurance, his tireless perseverance, and the whole of his small private fortune, to the building up of this invaluable Institution of learning. When he undertook the enterprise, it was only a High School in prospect, with unimproved grounds, the roofed walls of a school building, and an empty treasury. He left it with one of the best college buildings in the West, its broad champus and lawn
beautifully adorned, a full and efficient faculty, one hundred and fifty students, entire freedom from debt, and an endowment of $100,000. He had, indeed, a board of trustees of rare practical wisdom to direct or second his operations and plans; but it devolved on him to do the work. He raised the money, taught his regular classes, exercised discipline, brought his students into the College, planted the ornamental trees on the lawn with his own hands, and directed the minutia of a thousand nameless transactions, necessary to the proper conduct of a young growing institution of learning. Let his name be properly honored by those who enjoy the fruits of his labor!
On leaving Russellville, in 1861, President Blewett took charge of Bracken Academy at Augusta, Kentucky. Here he spent ten years, successfully conducting a good school. In 1870, he took charge of a young ladies Academy in the suburbs of St. Louis, Mo. This school was built up under the auspices of the Baptists; but it soon became embarrassed with debt, and finally became the private property of Dr. Blewett, who at the age of sixty-five, vigorous in health, and with the zeal of youth, is successfully conducting a young ladies Seminary. He has raised two sons and two daughters, all of whom being thoroughly educated, have adopted the profession of their father. The sons are Principals of Public Schools in St. Louis, each having thirty teachers and twelve hundred children under his care. The daughters are associated with their father and mother in conducting St. Louis Seminary.
GEORGE HUNT, second President of Bethel College, was born in Fayette county, Kentucky, June 9, 1831. He was baptized into the fellowship of East Hickman church, in his native county, by R.T. Dillard, in 1844. He was educated at Georgetown College, where he graduated, in 1849. He was ordained pastor of Maysville church, in 1856, by R. T. Dillard, W. M. Pratt, A. W. LaRue and W. W. Gardner. He resigned his charge at Maysville, in 1858, to fill the Chair of Theology in Georgetown College, a position he occupied till 1861. He was pastor at Stamping Ground church in Scott county, from 1858, till 1862, during which time he baptized into its fellowship, 125 converts. He was elected President of Bethel College in 1862, and reorganized that Institution, after it had been suspended in consequence of the War. In 1864,
he resigned the Presidency of the College, to take charge of Bethel and Salem churches, in Christian county. He ministered to these churches about two and a half years, baptizing about 40. He resigned the charge of these churches, to accept that of the church at Bowling Green, where he remained two years, baptizing about 25. From Bowling Green, he was called to the First Baptist church in Lexington. Here he remained four years, and baptized something over 100. From Lexington he went to Versailles, taking charge of the church atthat place and also of Hillsboro church in Woodford county. Having a, growing young family, in order to supplement his insufficient salary, he opened a private school in Versailles, where he taught some years. In 1885, he moved to Kansas City, Mo.
Mr. Hunt is an excellent preacher, and is much esteemed for his unassuming piety and sincere devotion to the cause of Christ.
WILLIAM W. GARDNER, was born near Glasgow Junction, Barren county, Kentucky, Oct. 1, 1818. At the age of eighteen years, he commenced the study of medicine. In 1838, he professed religion and joined a Baptist church. The year following, he was licensed to preach, and entered Georgetown College, where he graduated in 1843. He was one of four students who organized Paulding Hall Society, and was the leading spirit in building Paul-ding Hall, the object of which was to secure cheap board for young men studying for the ministry, in Georgetown College. In 1844, he took charge of the church at Shelbyville, where he was ordained to the full work of the ministry. In 1847, he accepted the pastoral charge of Mayslick church in Mason county, and ministered to it about ten years, except during a portion of the year 1851, in which he acted most efficiently as Agent of the General Association of Kentucky Baptists. From 1857 to 1869, he was pastor of the church at Russellville. During the same period, and for several years afterwards, he was Professor of Theology in Bethel College. Since his resignation of the last named position, he has been pastor for brief periods, of several churches. He is at present  pastor of the church at Bardstown. In 1870, the degree of D.D. was conferred on him by Union University, and afterwards, by Georgetown College.
Dr. Gardner has been one of the most valuable men of the
Baptist denomination in Kentucky. In whatever he undertakes to do, he is eminently practical. As a preacher, he is clear, direct and scriptural; as a pastor, he is diligent, patient and laborious, and as an agent for missionary and educational enterprises, he has been uniformly successful. But his highest excellence consists in his eminent fitness for teaching Theology. His great life-work for his denomination [to the present time] was preformed in Bethel College. Not only have his students in Theology almost universally become ministers of much usefulness, but he added much to the reputation of the College and gave it a popularity in the denomination, which it would not have otherwise attained. His severance from that Institution may be numbered among its greatest misfortunes.
Among the writings of Dr. Gardner, his "Church Communion" has become a standard denominational work, and his "Missels of Truth" is a deservedly popular book.
THE CIVIL WAR breaking out, in 1861, put a sudden check on all religious and other benevolent enterprises. The Colleges and most of the Academies were closed, and their buildings were used for sick and wounded soldiers. Many of the church houses were used for the same purpose. The people of Kentucky were nearly equally divided on the political issues out of which the War grew. Almost, if not without exception, every Baptist church in the State was divided on the question of secession. Some of the churches had a majority of unionists, and others a majority of secessionists. The excitement was so intense, that in many communities, church members of the different parties could not worship together with any degree of comfort. Many would not hear a minister whose political views differed from their own. Camparatively few people attended religious worship, and a large proportion of those who did, felt little or no interest in it. The jealousy of the political parties in the churches, prevented the exercise of discipline and, on this account, the worshipers became further demoralized. Some of the preachers [happily not a great many] became so much excited that they mounted the rostrum, and urged the young men to enlist as soldiers in one army, or the other, according to the political views of the speakers. Several preachers were arrested by the military authorities, and imprisoned for longer or shorter periods.
Many faithful and valuable pastors were forced to resign their charges, because they differed in their political views from a majority, or an influential minority, of the churches they served. Too often their places were supplied by inferior ministers, whose mismanagement widened the breaches; and, in some cases, permanent divisions were the unhappy results. In a few cases, the members composing the minorities were excluded from the churches, usually on some frivolous pretext. But these cases were rare, and usually occurred in the more illiterate churches.
The policy almost universally agreed to, in the Baptist churches was, that their members should not be proscribed for their political opinions, or for any honorable endeavor to sustain them. Many of the churches had members in both the Federal and Confederate armies, opposed to each other in deadly strife, in honorable warfare. Yet, when they returned home, at the expiration of their term of service, they met each other in the house of God, as brethren in full fellowship, and were recognized as such by their churches. This principle of the noninterference with the rights of men in the exercise of their political privileges, saved the Baptists from much confusion. When the storm of excited passion, consequent on existing civil war, had subsided, the tempest-tossed churches righted up again, to use a nautical expression, and sailed on seas as calm and breakerless as those traversed before the gale arose.
The loss of property, and the heavy expenses entailed on the people, in consequence of the prevalence of war at the threshold of our homes, almost entirely cut off the contributions to the missionary operations, both at home and in the foreign fields. For the year ending May 1, 1860, the receipts of the General Association amounted to $14,099.82; for 1861, $8,313.82; for 1862, $2,154.02; and for 1863, $3,449.37. The active piety of the churches declined in almost an equal ratio. The religious prospects of the country never had been so gloomy, since the close of the war with Great Britain, in 1815. But in the midst of the deep darkness that overwhelmed the churches, God remembered his people, and visited them with a precious shower of divine grace.
In the year 1864, while the war was still raging in the Southern States, and the whole land, from the Ohio river to
the Gulf of Mexico, was over run with roving bands of robbers, who ruthlessly plundered and murdered the people indiscriminately, a most pleasing revival pervaded the churches in Kentucky. The ingathering of converts, though very respectable in numbers was not so large as in many former revivals. But it was a very joyous refreshing to the people of God, who had long hungered for the bread that cometh down from above. A revival also visited the Southern Army, and many of the soldiers were converted and baptized, some of whom are still valuable members of our churches.
In 1865, the War closed, and the survivors of the two great armies returned to their homes. Alas! what multitudes were left sleeping in unknown graves in the far off sunny South. Many active and valuable church members were lost in the fearful conflict that desolated our homes, our hearts and our churches. Some that survived were sadly demoralized. A few preachers, who had gone into the army, had fallen before the temptations incident to camp life. There were apostacies at home, as well as in the armies. Many were the breaches that needed to be repaired, before the armies of the Lord would be ready to march against the enemies of the Cross of Christ. But, as in the olden time, when the broken down walls of Jerusalem were to be rebuilt, "the people had a mind to work," so now, when wounds and dissensions in the churches needed to be healed, God afforded his people grace to perform the duty. A four years' war with its dire accompaniments, had caused men to feel their helplessness, and had humbled them; the revival 1864, had softened the hearts of Christians that had been estranged from each other, and prepared the way for a hearty reconciliation.
The relation of the colored people to the churches, involved some confusion, during, the War, which, however, was easily and comfortably adjusted, when the War closed. It has been before observed, that the white and colored people of Kentucky, and indeed, in all the Slave States, belonged to the same churches. The relationship between the white and colored members was usually satisfactory to both races. The colored people had assigned them a certain part of the meeting house for their exclusive occupancy during the hours of public worship. This was sometimes a gallery, but oftener the rear end of the
same floor that was occupied by the white people. They enjoyed all the privileges of the church, except that of voting in “church meetings.” This privilege was denied them, on the grounds that they, being slaves, were under the control of masters who if they chose, might control their votes to the injury of the church, the masters of pious servants often being enemies to Christ.
From the planting of the first churches in the Valley of the Mississippi, slaves and masters were united in the same religious organizations. Jacob Vanmeter and several of his colored servants went together into the constitution of Severns Valley church, the oldest religious organization of any kind, in Kentucky. A large majority of the churches, constituted between 1781 and 1861, were composed of both races, and, in not a few instances, the colored members were in the majority. So accustomed were the blacks and the whites to worship together, that neither would have enjoyed public worship as comfortably, without, as with, the other. The feeling of Christian masters and servants for each other, is happily illustrated in the extract, from the diary of a Baptist pastor, given below. Governor James T. Morehead, one of the, leading statesmen of Kentucky, and one of the first orators of his day, then in the 57th year of his age, had just related his "Christian experience" before a Baptist church, and had been approved for baptism. "We then," says the pastor, in his diary, "joined in singing.
'Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,'
"and gave the hand of Christian fellowship. Just before we sang the last verse of the hymn, I noticed an old colored sister, who had stood all the while by the door, now weeping and singing in great joy. I went up to her and said, 'Aunt Annie, won't you come and give the governor the hand of fellowship?'
'I'm just waitin' for you to get through.'
"'We are through, Aunt Annie.'
"She walked quietly up to the governor, who was still sitting in his large rocking-chair, but now with his head down, and in tears. Aunt Annie caught him by the hand, exclaiming, 'Massa Jimme, God bless you!'
"Raising up his head, he looked full in the joyous face of his
old family servant, whose streaming eyes told the full soul of joy she felt in giving him the hand of fellowship
."'Why, Annie," he exclaimed, as his manly form bounded forward to embrace her in his arms. Thus they remained, reciprocating their gratulations, when prayer was proposed. They knelt together, with their arms around each other's neck; as they knelt, the Governor said:
"'Oh, Annie, I have found him a precious Savior.' "'Thank God, Massa Jimme, ain't he a precious Jesus?' "During prayer, and it was a season of joyous weeping too, they continued to mingle their tears of joy and hearty amens. "Rising from his knees, and wiping his eyes as he resumed his position in his chair, his sweet, manly voice now trembling, the Govenor said "'Gentlemen, pardon me. You are, in all social relations of life, my equals. I am proud to own you as such. I love you as dear friends. But pardon me, brethren (as I now delight to call you), but I love Annie more than I do any of you. She has been to me and my family a tried friend. It is not enough to say she has been a faithful servant. She has been a Christian and a friend, and I love her now most tenderly.'"
The slave was in subjection to his master in all things pertaining to this life, but in the church of Christ there was neither bond nor free, but all were one in Christ Jesus. When the fortunes of war freed the slaves, and they refused farther submission to their masters, there was some discussion in the churches as to whether they should be held accountable for violating the Scriptural requirement, "Servants obey your masters." But another scripture came to the relief of the colored people. "Art thou called being a servant, care not for it; but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather." [1 Corinthians 7:21.] It is not known to the author that any were excluded from the churches for choosing to be free.
As soon as the War closed the colored people began to form separate churches wherever they had members enough. The white members encouraged them in this course, but left them to act as they chose. It was several years before the separation was complete; and even now there are some colored members in the white churches. Their zeal inn religion is very warm.
They are prompt in attending their meetings, even under unfavorable circumstances. Sometimes they hold meetings almost every night for several months together. During these meetings large numbers profess conversion and are baptized. They are aspiring in their dispositions, and have no thought of being content to lag behind the most fortunate of their white brethren. They formed churches and district associations with such facility that, within five years after the close of the War, they formed the General Association of Colored Baptists inKentucky. This body was constituted at Lexington, Aug. 3, 1869. The organization comprised 56 churches with an aggregate membership of 12,620. The growth of their denomination has been quite rapid, and they are making earnest efforts to establish schools for the higher education of their children, especially of their young men, approved by the churches to preach the gospel. In liberality, in supporting their pastors and their benevolent enterprises, they far surpass their white brethren. Out of their deep poverty their liberality has greatly abounded, and God has prospered them correspondingly.
There was a disposition on the part of the Baptists of Kentucky to set about healing the breaches and correcting the mistakes that had been made. In 1864 military authorities issued certain orders, interfering with the freedom of the churches. Whereupon the General Association, at its meeting in Bardstown, in May of that year, passed the following preamble and resolution:
"Inasmuch as certain orders have been recently issued by officers in high position under the Government, which directly subject the churches to the dominion of governmental authority, subverting the great principles of religious freedom, therefore,
"Resolved, that such interference awakens our suspicions, and justly creates alarm and apprehension for the integrity of the principles of religious freedom in this country, can only be productive of evil, and that it meets with our unqualified disapprobation."
The Agricultural and Mechanical College became a source of general dissatisfaction, about the close of the War. The United States Congress had distributed among the several States, certain sums of money, for the purpose of establishing Industrial Schools. In January, 1865, the Legislature of Kentucky placed
the amount received by this State, in the hands of the Campbellites, with which to endow an Agricultural and Mechanical College, in Kentucky University. This act of injustice to all the other religious sects in the State, at once attracted the attentention of the Baptists. In May, 1865, the General Association passed the following preamble and resolution
"Whereas, The Kentucky Legislature, at its last session, passed an act, placing in the hands of a single denomination of professed Christians, the control of certain funds provided for the State by the General Government, for the establishment of a Commercial [Agricultural and Mechanical rather] College in Kentucky; and
"Whereas, All other Christian organizations of this State, which represent a large proportion of the population thereof, have had great injustice done them by said legislation; therefore, be it
Resolved, That this General Association appoint a committee consisting of the following ministers of the gospel: R. T. Dillard D. D., D. R. Campbell LL.D., W. M. Pratt D. D., James S. Coleman and R. M. Dudley, who are requested, in behalf of this body, to present to the Legislature of Kentucky a memorial, setting forth the facts in the case, and to call upon them for such legislation as will correct the evil done."
Similar resolutions were adopted the next year. The Legislature failing to take any action in the case, the General Association, in 1867, appointed a committee to prepare a suitable address to the people of Kentucky, on the subject. The following additional resolutions were also adopted
Whereas, A manifest moral and legal injustice was perpetrated by the Kentucky Legislature in appropriating funds, the common property of the people of this State, to a sectarian institution known as the Kentucky University. And —
"Whereas, The sect, usually known as Campbellites, sought and obtained from the Legislature, such legislation as gave them money in which all other denominations had an equal interest, that they might thereby build up a sectarian school under the auspices of State patronage: Therefore
"Resolved, That we repeat our protest against the action of the Legislature, in chartering the Agricultural College as a college of Kentucky University, thereby fostering an avowed sectarian
institution at the expense of other denominations, and the people generally of the Commonwealth.
"2. That it is in contravention of the spirit and intent of our civil institutions, for the State to afford its patronage to one denomination of Christians to the exclusion of others. And this the Kentucky Legislature has done in passing common funds over to a University, one college of which is for the express purpose of teaching sectarian interpretations of the word of God.
"3. We recommend to our brethren throughout the State to withhold all countenance and support from the Kentucky University, recognizing in it, as we do, an institution for the propagation of doctrines in open conflict with the faith once delivered to the saints.
Most of the district associations throughout the State passed resolutions similar to those adopted by the General Association. Public sentiment was finally aroused, and the Legislature was forced to repeal the obnoxious act. The Agricultural and Mechanical College was separated from the Kentucky University, and became simply a State Institution.
The healing of the breaches made in the churches by the War, was of still greater importance to the happiness and prosperity of the denomination. It would have been very marvelous if during a war of four years continuance, in which almost every Baptist church in the State was represented in both of the opposing armies, there had not been many unkind words spoken, and many little wrongs committed, affecting the fellowship of brethren and sisters. Now that the brethren had returned home from the armies, and all the members could come together in the church, it was of the the first importance to the cause of the Redeemer, that full and hearty fellowship should be restored. This was less difficult of accomplishment than could have been anticipated. Christians became weary of entertaining malice in their hearts, and yearned for the spirit that was also in Christ Jesus. Mutual confessions were made, with tears and prayers. Forgiveness was asked and received, and that blessed fellowship which the Spirit of God alone can give, was restored. A precious revival followed.
This work of grace was manifested in the churches of Elkhorn Association, in 1866, and extended over the State, within the next two or three years. The loss of members by the
churches during the War was very heavy. It is probable that not less than 25,000 colored people were severed from the white organizations, while it is estimated that 15,000 white members were lost by the casualties of war. Elkhorn Association alone, lost, during the period extending from 1861 to 1870, 7,697 members, while there were added to its churches by baptism, 2,458. Fourteen associations, located in the middle portion of the State, lost, during the same period, 30,892, while they received by baptism 22,599. A clear loss of 40,000, including the colored members, large numbers of whom left the State, while the remainder formed separate churches, is a moderate estimate. Yet it will be seen when we come to make up the statistics for 1870, that the loss was considerably overbalanced by the large numbers added to the churches, during the five years immediately succeeding the close of the War.
The last named period was one of general prosperity, in all the departments of Christian benevolence. A great zeal for the salvation of sinners pervaded the churches. Christian effort in this direction was greatly blessed, and large numbers were added to the churches. The contributions to benevolent enterprises were larger than they had ever been before. The receipts of the General Association for all purposes, for the year ending May 1, 1866, were $33,279.61. This was more than twice as much as had been received by that body during any previous year. The receipts, especially for State Missions, continued to increase to the close of the period under consideration.
The educational interests of the Baptists, which, as stated above, had been prostrated by the War, were revived again, and attained a good degree of prosperity during this period. The interest felt by the denomination, in Sunday schools, became much more general after the War, than it had been before. The zealous labors of W. S. Sedwick, and the earnest, practical efforts of Prof. J. J. Rucker added largely to the advancement of this cause. Notwithstanding the devastation of a four years civil war, the impoverishing of the people by its results, the prostration of all our missionary and educational institutions, and the depletion of our churches, by a radical change in our social system, the close of the decade under revision found the Baptist denomination in Kentucky, peaceful, happy and
prosperous. The following statistics exhibit its numerical strength, in 1870.
Of the regular or missionary Baptists, there were: associations, forty-six; churches, 1,023; members, 87,127; of the Antimissionary Baptists, associations, twenty-nine; churches, 353, members, 14,601; total white Baptists, associations, seventy-five; churches, 1,376; members, 101,728. The colored Baptists were not yet sufficiently well organized to admit of our obtaining exact statistics. But it is believed that a low estimate would give them: associations, five; churches, ninety-two; members, 20,000. This would give a grand total of eighty associations, 1,468 churches, and 121,728 members.
The population of the State, in 1870, was 1,321,011. This gives, in round numbers, one church for every 900 of the population, and one Baptist for every ten of the population.
The Methodists were much divided by the influences of the War, but reorganized in their several divisions, with considerable facility after its close. In 1870, there were in Kentucky, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, white members, 45,522; colored members, 484; of the Methodist Episcopal Church (Northern), white and colored, 19, 508; of colored Methodists, in other organizations, 12,000 (estimated); making a total of 77,517.
The Presbyterian Church in Kentucky, was also rent into two parties, known respectively as "the Declaration and Testimony" party [Southern] and "the Assembly" party (Northern). In 1870, the Declaration and Testimony Synod numbered 6,600; the Assembly Synod numbered 5,510. It was estimated that the small churches, not included in the official statistics, numbered 1,000, making a total of 13,110.
Other religious denominations in the State, as heretofore furnished no statistics. ________________
1 Resigned in 1885.
[John Henderson Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists, 1885; rpt. CHR&A, 1984.]
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