Baptist History Homepage

A History of Kentucky Baptists
By J. H. Spencer

Chapter 7
Other Churches Planted in 1785

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LIMESTONE CHURCH (now Washington) was another body of the kind organized on the soil of Kentucky in 1785. It was gathered by William Wood. It was constituted of nine members whose names were as follows: "William Wood, Sarah Wood, James Turner, John Smith, Luther Calvin, Priscilla Calvin, Sarah Starks, Charles Tuel, and Sarah Tuel."1 The church was located at or near the present town of Washington in Mason county. This was the oldest settlement in this region of the State. It is claimed that Simon Kenton raised a crop of corn here, in 1775, the same year that Boonesboro and Harrodsburg were settled, and the town of Washington was laid off ten years later, by Elder William Wood and a man of the name of Arthur Fox.

At the constitution of Limestone church, William Wood became its pastor, and represented it at the formation of Elkhorn Association, in the Fall of 1785. The first general Revival that occurred in Kentucky, and which commenced on Clear creek, as related in the preceding chapter, reached Limestone in the Summer of 1788. The first baptism that occurred in Mason county, was administered in the Ohio river, in front of the present city of Maysville, in August of that year, by William Wood. A large number of people was present, and a crowd of Indians gathered on the opposite shore. The following persons were baptized: Elizabeth Wood, John Wilcox, Ann Turner, Mary Rose, and Elizabeth Washburne.f11 When Washington became the county seat of Mason, the church changed its name to Washington church. Mr. Wood continued to serve it as pastor till 1788, when he became enangled in land speculation, and was excluded from the church.
The Washington church has had a continuous existence from its constitution to the present time. It is now quite weak. In 1875, it reported a total membership of only 21.

WILLIAM WOOD appears to have been a man of culture and considerable ability. He was among the early settlers of Mason county, and was probably from New York. He purchased a thousand acres of land on which the town of Washington in Mason county now stands, and, in 1785, he and Arthur Fox laid off that town. The same year, he gathered Washington church, to which he ministered as pastor till 1798. In this year complaint was made against him in the church, on account of some business transactions. Failing to give satisfaction to the church, he was excluded from its fellowship. After this we hear no more of him.

POTTENGERS CREEK, located in the Southern part of Nelson county, was another church constituted in the year 1785. It was gathered by Benjamin Lynn, and he was its first pastor. It was one of the churches of which South Kentucky Association was constituted. Mr. Lynn had his membership in this church. In 1790, according to Asplund, it contained thirtyeight members. It was probably drawn off from the general union by John Bailey and Thomas J. Chilton, in 1804. It long since became extinct.

COX'S CREEK CHURCH is located in Nelson county, six miles north of Bardstown. William Taylor settled on the waters of Cox's creek as early as 1784. He soon began to hold meetings in the cabins of the settlers, and, April, 17, 1785, with the assistance of John Whitaker and Joseph Barnett, constituted Cox’s Creek church. Sixteen members, including Mr. Taylor and his wife, were in the constitution. By the last of the following October, the church had swelled its number to twenty-six. On the 31st of October, 1785, messengers from Severns Valley, Cedar Creek, Bear Grass and Cox's Creek churches, met on Cox’s creek and formed Salem Association. Cox’s Creek church, at its constitution, called William Taylor to its pastoral care, and he continued to serve in tha capacity, till his death, in 1809. He was succeeded by Moses Pierson, who continued in office till 1825, when he resigned Isaac Taylor, a son of William Taylor, was then called, and served the church until his death, which occurred, March 13,
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1842, in the 69th year of his age. Smith Thomas, one of the most valuable ministers of his day, succeeded Isaac Taylor. Mr. Thomas resigned, after two or three years, and was succeeded by V.E. Kirtley. In 1849, on the resignation of Mr. Kirtley, Preston B. Samuels became the pastor of Cox's Creek church. This connection was a most fortunate one for the church. Its prosperity was constant during his whole pastoral term. He served the church faithfully till his sudden death, which occurred January 1, 1872. Thomas H. Coleman succeeded Mr. Samuels, and, after a brief period gave place to his brother James M. Coleman who, after a few years, was succeeded by John M. Sallee, the present incumbent.

This old church has been, from its constitution, one of the strongest and most respectable churches in the State. It has contained many of the prominent citizens of Nelson county. The Kings, Mays, Coxes and other prominent families have been of its congregation, from the first until the present. The Wellses, Crawfords, Stones and Formans have been of its membership for two or three generations past. General Henry Crist and General Joseph Lewis were among its early members. It has had, from the first, an intelligent, enterprising membership, and has been a leading church in the benevolent enterprises of the denomination. May it still continue to be valiant for the Master, for many generations to come.

WILLIAM TAYLOR was the founder and first pastor of Cox’s Creek church. He was born in New Jersey, in the year 1737. In his early childhood, his parents moved to Virginia, where he was brought up to hard labor on a farm, receiving but a very limited education. In early manhood he returned to New Jersey. Here he married a Baptist young lady of the name of Rachel Thompson, who proved to him a most estimable companion, and a faithful colaborer in the work of the Master.

Mr. Taylor obtained the hope of salvation and united with a Baptist church, in early manhood, and soon afterwards began to preach the Gospel. At first he was extremely diffident and easily embarrassed, and his first efforts to preach were very unpromising. On one occasion, when attempting to preach, he perceived some disorder in his congregation, and became at once so confused that he was unable to proceed. Not knowing how to escape from his embarrassed position otherwise, he said
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to the people: "You are so wicked that I cannot preach to you," and abruptly left the house, mounted his horse and went home.

After preaching a short time in his native State, he moved to Buffalo (now Bethany), Virginia, and from there to the Southeastern part of Ohio. Here he remained about eight years. He then came down the Ohio river to the Falls. How long he remained here is not known; but he settled on Cox's Creek, Nelson county, Kentucky, as early as 1784. At this time, there appears to have been but two other Regular Baptist preachers in Kentucky west of Frankfort, and they were both old and wanting in activity and enterprise. There were three small Regular Baptist churches in this region, and one of them had lost its pastor by the Indians. There were two small Separate Baptist churches, and as many preachers of that order. But these and the Regulars, like the Jews and Samaritans of old, had no dealings with each other.

William Taylor speedily became to the Regular Baptists of the Southern settlements what Lewis Craig was to those of the Northern. He not only collected the settlers together in the regions immediately around him, and preached to them, but he visited the little churches, preached to them and encouraged them. The country was full of hostile Indians, lurking in the woods, and murdering the settlers. But this fearless soldier of the cross seemed to disregard all danger. He inspired the settlers with courage by his cheerful fearlessness, and won their hearts by his constant piety and practical benevolence. By the middle of April, succeeding his settlement in the country, he had collected Baptists enough to constitute Cox's Creek church. Of this he immediately became pastor. There were now four little churches, aggregating 123 members, including three ordained ministers, in this part of the country.These he induced to meet, by messengers, at Cox’s Creek, on the 29th of October, 1785, and form an association.

From the time of his settlement on Cox's creek, till the feebleness of old age rendered him incapable of enduring hardships he spent nearly all his time in traveling and preaching among the settlers in a large area of country around him, while his noble christian wife so managed his domestic affairs as to provide a comfortable living for his family. An anecdote is related
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of him, showing how thoroughly he was absorbed in his holy calling. On the day on which Cox's Creek church was constituted he and his wife had gone to meeting, both riding one horse. On his return home, as he was passing the cabin of a brother, about a mile from where the meeting had been held, he was suddenly brought to a halt by the question:

"Brother Taylor, where is your wife?"
"Ah," said he, "I forgot her."

Riding back a half mile, he met Mrs. Taylor, with shoes and stockings in hand, wading across Cox's Creek. Mrs. Taylor often told the story with much pleasantry.

Besides Cox's Creek, Mr. Taylor gathered Simpson's Creek and Mill Creek churches in Nelson county, both of which enjoyed his pastoral labors. In 1785, he and John Whitaker constituted Brashears Creek church in Owens fort, near where Shelbyville now stands. This was the first church organized in what is now Shelby county. Mr. Taylor doubtless laid the foundation for several other churches, and perhaps gathered some others. He lived to see Salem Association a large and prosperous body, and the broad field in which he had been the pioneer laborer, well supplied with preachers.

As the close of his earthly labors and trials drew near, he became strongly impressed with the belief that the time of his departure was at hand. He showed his family where he wished to be buried, and advised them how to act after his departure. Having set his house in order, he calmly yielded up his spirit to God who gave it, in 1809. His devoted wife followed him in about two months.

William Taylor was the most active and influential minister in Salem Association, during the first fifteen years of its existence. His moral character was so spotless, and he exhibited, in so eminent a degree, the spirit of his divine Master, that he made a deep impression on society, throughout his extensive field of labor, in favor of the Christian religion. His gifts were moderate, but they were employed with diligence and singleness of purpose, and the Lord abundantly blessed his labors.

Mr. Taylor raised four sons and three daughters. Of his sons, Isaac Taylor became one of the most popular and useful preachers of his day. Of his daughters, Dorcas married
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Moses Pierson, an energetic and useful preacher, and Senor married Isaac Whitaker who attained to some usefulness in the ministry.

MOSES PIERSON was the second pastor of Cox's Creek church. He was a native of New Jersey, where he was born about the year 1765. His parents were strict Presbyterians, and among his father's relations was a distinguished minister of that sect. It is said that young Pierson, at the age of eighteen years, formed an attachment to the oldest daughter of Elder William Taylor. Soon after this, Mr. Taylor moved to Kentucky. Young Pierson, finding that he could not be happy while absent from his lady love, followed her to the wilds of Kentucky, where they were soon afterwards married.

Moses Pierson was among the first fruits unto the Lord in Cox's Creek church, if indeed his was not the first baptism administered within the bounds of Salem Association. In 1802, he was requested by the church to "speak in public, provided one or more ministers be present." In January, 1804, he was ordained to the work of the ministry, by Walter Stallard, James McQuade, and Warren Cash. In 1807, he was requested to preach at Cox's Creek, two Sundays in the month. On the death of the venerable William Taylor, two years later, he became pastor of Cox's Creek church, which position he occupied till the first of January, 1825. Mr. Pierson was a man of marked peculiarities. He was tall, with a large frame, and possessed giant strength. His industry was remarkable, and he was physically reckless. "It was his regular habit, in warm weather," said his nephew, “to spring out of his bed at daybreak, run to his barn, in his single night garment, feed all his stock, and then 'make his toilet,' which consisted of one additional garment. He never wore shoes in warm weather, when about home. He literally ran instead of walking, when going to and from his work, and never seemed to need rest."2 At one time, hearing a chicken squall, on a very dark night, and supposing some "varmint " to be attacking his henroost, he sprang out of his bed, ran out of doors, and, in jumping over a fence, run a snag of an apple tree into his abdomen, and was unable to release himself till he called his
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family to his assistance. At one time he was relieved of sixty feet of tape-worm, but still retained enough of the voracious parasite to give him much annoyance the remainder of his earthly pilgrimage.

Mr. Pierson possessed a meagre education, and his natural gifts were not above mediocrity. His voice was extremely harsh and unmusical. His frequent use of the word peradventure, which lie pronounced incorrectly, gained for him the title of "Old Paradventure" among the facetious young hunters, to whom he preached, and his jarring voice, which his poetical auditors fancied resembled the vibrating of a splinter on a fence rail during an equinoctial gale, acquired for him the sobriquet of "Old-Splinter-on-the-Fence." But under all his disadvantages he was a preacher of much usefulness. In his ministerial calling he used the same energy and industry that characterized his farm labor. As if, like Saul of Tarsus, he had determined not to build on another man’s foundation, he labored principally in new settlements and among the destitute. The spirit of the Lord wrought with him, and gave him good success. Among the churches that he gathered, and to which he ministered for a time, were Pond Creek, in Jefferson county, Cedar Creek, in Bullitt county, and Little Union, in Spencer county. The first two have been dissolved; the last named is now a leading church in Nelson Association, and was many years under the pastoral care of the distinguished William Vaughan.

Mr. Pierson labored in Kentucky about twenty years, at a time when his labors were much needed, where the field was white unto the harvest and the laborers were few. On the death of his wife, in 1823, he went back to New Jersey and married again. This marriage is said not to have been a very happy one. On his return to his field of labor it was soon apparent that he was gloomy and irritable. In 1825 he resigned his pastoral charge at Cox's Creek, and moved to Indiana. Here he continued to preach occasionally. But he engaged in tavern keeping, and in his old age was accused of drinking too freely. He died about the year 1841, leaving a sullied reputation.

By his first wife he raised a large and respectable family, all of whom, it is believed, moved to Indiana. "In 1810," said an aged sister to the author, "I saw Brother Pierson lead seven of his children into Cox's creek, at one time, and baptize
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them."3 Among these was his son Willis, then twelve years of age. After his removal to Indiana Willis became a preacher, and was said to be a young man of good promise. A few years after he commenced preaching he visited Shelbyville, Kentucky, where he preached with good acceptance. While there he died suddenly in a congestive chill.

ISAAC TAYLOR was the the third pastor of Cox's Creek church. He was a son of Elder William Taylor, and was born in Pennsylvania, in 1772. At twelve years of age he came with his parents to Kentucky. His opportunity for acquiring an education was very poor. However, he was taught to read and write, and enjoyed the advantages of his father's library, which consisted of a Bible and hymn-book. When he grew up to manhood he became exceedinglyfond of the popular sports and amusements of the day, which consisted chiefly of dancing, hunting and gambling at shooting matches. In all these exerercises young Taylor was an adept, and a popular leader. His principal occupation was gambling on his comparative skill in shooting at a mark with a rifle. He was brave, handsome and cheerful, and his graceful bearing, his easy selfpossession in society, and his brilliant conversational powers, made him the center of attraction in every circle in which he moved; and withal, he was generous, open-hearted and honorable. Nature seemed to have showered on him all her most charming gifts, and life was to him a constant round of the most charming pleasures the rustic society of the backwoods could afford.

At the age of 24 years, October 24, 1796, he was married to Polly Marshall. Doubtless his pious old parents hoped that he would now settle down to a more sober life. But in this they were doomed to disappointment. He continued to engage, with unabated zest, in his round of pleasures, even within the memory of his oldest son. But at last the sword of the Spirit pierced his heart, and the arrows of the Almighty stuck fast in him.

On the 4th of July, 1801, Isaac Taylor related his experience to Cox’s Creek church, and was baptized by his venerable father. General Joseph Lewis, and Samuel Anderson, afterwards a good preacher, were baptized the same year. Mr.
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Taylor's ministerial gifts were of slow development. He was not licensed till another revival visited the church, in 1810 -- the same revival during which the pastor, Moses Pierson, baptized seven of his own children at one time.

Isaac Taylor and Samuel Anderson were licensed to preach the same day. The latter gave good promise from the beginning, but the former gave such small evidence of a preaching gift, that the church began to fear he would not succeed. After awhile, however, he began to manifest some growth. On the 5th of June, 1813, he and Mr. Anderson were ordained, by Walter Stallard, Daniel Walker, Joshua Morris, and Moses Pierson. After a short time Samuel Anderson moved to Perry county, Indiana, where he was eminently useful and much beloved.

Mr. Taylor was soon called to as many of the neighboring churches as he could serve. Among these were Mt. Moriah, Cedar Creek (where he succeeded the venerable Joshua Morris), Mill Creek, Simpson’s Creek (now Bloomfield), all in Nelcounty, and Newhope, which he gathered, in 1829, in Washington county. On the resignation of his brother-in-law, Moses Pierson, he became pastor of Cox’s Creek church, a position he occupied till he was called to his reward above.

From the time he was ordained till his death, Isaac Taylor was probably the most popular preacher that ever labored in Salem Association, and is supposed to have baptized more people than any other minister that has lived within the bounds of that old fraternity. As if to try to make some amends for the time he had wasted in youthful folly and wickedness, he seemed to consecrate all his powers to the service of God. His gifts were of the most valuable quality; with a warm, affectionate temperament, the most pleasing social qualities, a heart overflowing with love to Christ, and a sympathy that pleaded tearfully for the salvation of his race, he won all hearts with which he came in contact. He maintained a spotless reputation, and never betrayed the unlimited confidence which the mass of the people reposed in him. He lived almost as in a continuous revival. His popularity was so great among the young people, that he is supposed to have married about two thousand couples.

The attachment which his people felt towards him in his
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old age may be illustrated by the follwing anecdote, often told by the lamented Elder Smith Thomas. When Mr. Thomas was quite a young preacher, and was regarded a very brilliant orator, he was invited to preach one Sunday in the month at Cox's Creek, "Father Taylor" being the pastor. In his old age, Mr. Taylor indulged the habit of frequently blowing his nose, with a loud, shrill, but not unmusical sound, during his preaching. After Mr. Thomas began to preach at Cox's Creek, the question arose in the social circle on one occasion, as to which was the best preacher, Mr. Thomas or Mr. Taylor. There was some difference of opinion expressed among the young people, when Deacon Stone closed the debate by saying, with an emphasis that would admit of no rejoinder: “I tell you, I would rather hear Isaac Taylor blow his nose, than to hear Smith Thomas preach.”

Mr. Taylor's ministry was not a lengthy one. He began to preach late in life, and was taken home before he reached his three score years and ten. His last sermon was preached at Cedar Creek, on Sunday, March 13, 1842. After religious services were over, he went to the house of James Rogers, near the meeting house, where he took dinner, apparently in good health. He spent the afternoon in reading and conversation, till about dusk, when, yielding to the solicitation of some of the family, he laid down to rest. He continued his conversation a few minutes after lying down, when something in his manner of breathing attracted attention and some of the, family hurried to his bedside. He drew but a few more breaths, and his spirit was gone to God who gave it.

BRASHEARS CREEK was the next church after Cox's Creek, raised up west of Frankfort, and was the first in what is now Shelby county. It was constituted of eight members, some time during the year 1785, in Owen's fort, near the present town of Shelbyville. Seven of the eight original members wereMartha Whitaker, Col. Aquila Whitaker and his wife, Mary, Peggy Garret, Nathan Garrot, Col. James Ballard, and Rebecca, a colored woman. Soon after the church was constituted, the Indians became so troublesome that it did not meet again, for about two years; nor did its members hear a sermon during that period. In the winter of 1778-9, William Hickman of the Forks of Elkhorn visited Owen's
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fort, at the request of two of Bracket Owen's sons. Mr. Hickman gives the following account of this visit: "William Major, Benjamin Haydon and a lady (Mrs. Pulliam) were to go (with me). We dined on the turkey (at Mr. Pulliam’s in Frankfort,) and crossed the river one at a time, and swam our horses by the side of a canoe. When we all got over and put our saddles on, the moon shone. We then had twenty miles to go, in the night. Sometimes it was snowing, and then the moon shining. We crossed Benson nineteen times at some fords the ice would bear us over: at other fords some steps would bear us, the next step break in. We continued this disagreeable road till we fell on the waters of what was then called Tick creek. We passed a number of evacuated cabins. The owners had either been killed, or driven off, by the Indians. It was a very cold night. We had no watch along, but we judged it must have been two o’clock in the morning when we called at the fort gate for admittance. The old gentleman was not at home, and the old lady had all barred up. It was sometime before we could convince her who we were, as she was afraid of a decoy, but at last she let us in. The weather being so cold, she had given me out. But she soon had a good fire raised, and got us a warm supper, or rather breakfast, put all to bed and covered us warm. Early in the morning she sent out runners to the different forts, and about noon collected one of the rooms nearly full of people. About two years before, a small church was constituted by two old ministers, brothers William Taylor of Nelson and John Whitaker of Jefferson, I believe eight in number. The Indians were so very bad among them that they scattered and kept up no government. They could not meet together, and nobody preached to them till I went, as above named. I preached on Saturday night and Sunday to nearly the same people, and knew none of them but what went with me. On Sunday night, I went about a mile to another fort, and I hope the Lord did not send me there in vain. On Monday morning I was to start home. This short visit attached our hearts to each other. They insisted very hard for me to leave them another appointment before I left them. At last I consented to come again. I set a time in March, but it was with difficulty I could leave my people at home, but I went to the
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time, on Friday, and continued with them till Wednesday, day and night, at three or four different stations. They still urged harder for a continuation of my attendance. They promised if I would attend them they would send me several loads of grain, and would, every time, send a guard to the river to meet me and guard me back. I thought I would consult my family and the church, whether it would meet their approbation, and I would send them word. I did so; they had no objection; I sent word, and, in May, went down and staid longer. In that tour they came together and agreed to stand as a church on the old constitution, and I baptized one member. The next month I baptized another. Brother James McQuade stood by me from the first, and was my singing clerk. A little after this Brother Gano baptized him and two or three others. I repeated my visits to them, and baptized a number. The church grew. While going from meeting to meeting, sometimes twenty or thirty in a gang, we were guarded by the men. It looked more like going to war than to meeting to worship God."4

After Mr. Hickman ceased his regular visits to Brashears Creek church, Joshua Morris, of whom something has been said elsewhere, settled among them, and continued to serve them as pastor till about the year 1800. This church joined Salem Association in October, 1787. At this time it contained only seven members. This was before its renovation by Mr. Hickman. The next account of it we have was when it united in forming Long Run Association, in 1803. It then embraced 101 members. It is probable that James McQuade, sr., succeeded Joshua Morris in the pastoral care of this church, and ministered to it till his death, which occurred May 23, 1828, in his 68th year. During the revival of 1810, it reached a membership of 112. In 1843, its membership had increased to 123. About this time its name was changed to CLEAR CREEK. After this the neighboring churches that had sprung up around it, and especially the Shelbyville church, absorbed its members till sometime after the year 1858, it ceased to exist.

This was the mother church in this region of the State
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and from it sprang all the early churches of Shelby county. It served well during its period, and left behind it a numerous and prosperous offspring.

RUSH BRANCH was the first church gathered in what is now Lincoln county. It was constituted about two and a half miles from the present location of Stanford, in the year 1785. John Bailey was its founder and its first pastor. It united in forming South Kentucky Association, in 1787. It vent into the general union in 1801, and became a member of the South District Association. In 1803 there was a rupture in South District Association on account of some doctrinal errors, propagated by some of the ministers. One of the factions resumed the name of South Kentucky Association of SeparateBaptists. Rush Branch church adhered to this division, and its subsequent history is not know to the author.

JOHN BAILEY was the founder and first pastor of Rush Branch church. He was a man of superior talent and great energy, and, for a number of years, occupied a high position, both as a preacher of the gospel and a legislator. He was a member of the convention that formed the first constitution of Kentucky, in 1792, as also of that which formed the second constitution of the State, in 1799. He was not a politician, however, but made preaching the great work of his life. The distinguished judge John Rowan regarded him the ablest pulpit orator in Kentucky of his generation.

John Bailey was the son of George Bailey, who was of English extraction, and was born in Northumberland county, Virginia, May 4, 1748. His mother’s maiden name was Bradley. His father died young, leaving a widow and two small children, John and Peter. John received very little education in his childhood, having attended a common school only a few months. But his mother was a strong-minded Christian woman, and carefully trained him up in the fear of the Lord. He professed conversion, and united with a Baptist church in his youth. He commenced exhorting at about the age of eighteen. After preaching for a time in his native county, he moved to Pittsylvania county. Here he gained considerable reputation as a pulpit orator. After having twice visited the Western country, looking about as far West as the Bear Grass settlement, he moved to Kentucky, and settled near the present
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site of Stanford, in Lincoln county, in the fall of 1784. Here he commenced preaching among the people of the new settlement. The year following he gathered Rush Branch church, and, afterwards, McCormack’s and Green River churches, and perhaps others.

Sometime after the year 1792 he moved to Logan county, from whence he was sent as a delegate to the convention which formed the second constitution of Kentucky, in 1799. Soon after this he moved back to Lincoln county, where he devoted his time to preaching. He refused to receive any compensation for preaching. He traveled and preached very extensively, and was said to be not only one of the ablest, but also one of the most popular preachers in Kentucky.

About the year 1800 it began to be rumored that Mr. Bailey had adopted the theory of the Restorationists. He had not yet preached it from the pulpit. It is claimed, indeed, by his especial friends, that he never did preach it from the pulpit at any time. Others of his admirers claimed that he preached the chimerical notion "in such a manner as not to offend the most delicate ear." However, it gained currency among his brethren, and began to cause disturbance in some of the churches. His great popularity in the church of which he was a member prevented the exercise of discipline against him.

When the South District Association met at McCormack's, in 1803, it was known that there was an intention formed to investigate Mr. Bailey's doctrine before that body. Mr. Bailey determined that this should not be done. As soon, therefore, as the association was organized he succeeded in getting the floor. He made a speech of considerable length in his own defense. Then making an impassioned appeal to the messengers to guard against the usurpation of tyrannical power by associations he withdrew from the body, and invited all who adopted his views on that subject to follow him. His personal popularity and the power of his eloquence made the people forget or ignore his heresy, and he drew after him a majority of the association. This caused an immediate division of that body. A majority of the churches adhered to Mr. Bailey's party. Each party claimed the name and prerogatives of South District Association. The corresponding associations acknowledged
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the minority, and rejected the correspondence of the majority. After this Mr. Bailey's party resumed the name of South Kentucky Association of Separate Baptists.

In connection with Thomas J. Chilton and his son, Thomas Chilton, and some other ministers of considerable ability, Mr. Bailey labored with much diligence to build up the association with which he was now connected. His moral character was unspotted, and he labored abundantly. He retained his popularity and the grateful affection of his people to the end. He gave no prominence to his obnoxious doctrine, and the churches among which he labored seem not to have become infected with it to any considerable extent.

On the 3d of July, 1816, he left the walks of men and went to give an account of his stewardship to Him who is the rightful judge of all men. Those who knew him best reckoned him a good and great man.5

HEAD OF BOONE'S CREEK CHURCH, according to Asplund, was constituted in 1785. It was located in Fayette county, and is supposed to have been gathered by Joseph Craig. It united with South Kentucky Association, either at its constitution or the year following. In 1790 it contained 74 members. This is the last account we have of it, except that it was soon afterwards dissolved.

JOSEPH CRAIG is supposed to have been the first and only pastor of the Separate Baptist church on the Head of Boones creek. Mr. Craig, though a preacher of small gifts and marked eccentricities, was a man of zeal and piety, was among the early pioneers to the great West, and deserves to be remembered by those who love the cause he aided in establishing in the face of danger and death, in the savage-infested wilderness of the Mississippi valley.

Joseph Craig was the seventh child, and fifth son, of Toliver Craig, and a younger brother of the well-known Lewis and Elijah Craig. He was born inOrange county, Virginia, about the year 1747. In early life he, with all his father’s family, was converted to Christianity, and was baptized under the ministry of Samuel Harris and Dutton Lane. He commenced exhorting
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sinners to repent soon after his conversion. With other Baptist ministers of his day, he was called on to endure hardness for the Master's cause. At one time, he, with several other preachers, was arrested at Guinea’s Bridge church, in Spottsylvania county, Virginia, by virtue of a warrant issued by a magistrate. On his way to the magistrate's house, in custody of an officer, "Mr. Craig, thinking it no dishonor to cheat the divil as he termed it, slipped off the horse and took to the bushes. They hunted him with dogs, but Asahel like, being light of foot, he made good his retreat."6 Chasing Baptist preachers with dogs, as our sportsmen chase foxes now, seems to have been a favorite amusement of the Episcopalian Virginians of the last century. Speaking of Joseph Craig, his biographer says: "I do not recollect, though a zealous preacher, that his persecutors ever got him into prison. He had a method to baffle them. He was once preaching at a place, and the officers came after him. Stepping out at a back door he ran into a swamp, supposing he was safe, but they took his track with a gang of dogs. To evade the dogs, he betook himself to a tree, from which his pursuers shook him down as if he was a wild beast, and demanded his going with them to court. After reasoning with them awhile he refused to go. But they forced him on a horse, and perhaps tied his hands. On the way he reasoned thus: Good men ought not to go to prison, and if you will put so good a man as Jo Craig in prison, I will have no hand in it, and threw himself off the horse, and would neither ride nor walk; behaving perhaps as David did, before Achish, King of Gath. -- 1 Samuel xxi:10. They let him go."7

Joseph Craig came to Kentucky at a very early date -- perhaps with his brother Lewis and his traveling church, in 1781. He was never more than a moderate exhorter, but he maintained an unblemished reputation, and was zealous and diligent in his calling. "No man in the bounds of our acquaintance," says his biographer, "manifested more zeal in the cause of religion than Joseph Craig. At times his zeal seemed intemperate, as if the man had not common sense, and yet there was something in him more original than was found in other men." He was unsuited to the pastoral office, and probably occupied
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but little time in that position. But he was a faithful "helper to the truth" according to his ability. He labored in the ministry about fifty-nine years, and, at the age of about eighty years, went to receive his reward.

Mr. Craig avoided speculation, but was prudent and diligent in his temporal business, and acquired a good property. He raised six sons and four daughters, and“taught them all the laudable habit of industry. Find a child of his where you may, he is surrounded with affluence, and is of respectable standing among men. Nearly all of them have also a place in the church of Christ."8

Many anecdotes, some of which are still familiarly repeated, have been related of the eccentric Joseph Craig, of which the following appear to be well authenticated. On one occasion when pack-saddles were in much demand for conveying goods along the narrow traces through the wilderness, on pack-horses, Mr. Craig was preaching to a congregation assembled in the woods, when casting his eyes upward he said: "Brethren, there is a fork that would make a good pack-saddle," and then continued his discourse without making a pause. Once, after crossing a stream in a ferry-boat, and offering to pay the ferryman, the man of the oar said, "I will charge you nothing but to pray for me." Mr. Craig invited him ashore. "Not now," said the ferryman, "I am busy -- pray for me at some other time." "No," replied Mr. Craig, "I will not go away indebted to you." The ferryman yielded, and Mr. Craig offered up a fervent prayer for the salvation of his soul.

After Mr. Craig had been trying to preach about a score of years his brother Lewis, fearing that he would only injure the holy cause he was advocating, attempted to dissuade him from making any further effort to preach, saying to him: "You have been trying to preach twenty years, and I have never known of your being instrumental in the conversion of but one person." "Thank God," said Mr. Craig, "if Christ has saved one soul by me, in twenty years, I am ready to labor twenty more for the salvation of another." Being called to see a sick niece, after offering a fervent prayer for her recovery,
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he took her by the hand and said: Now, Hannah, don't die. You have a good husband and many fine children, some of them yet to raise. If you die now it will be the meanest thing you ever did in your life." When Mrs. Graves recovered she asked her uncle what he meant. "Well," said he, "I was afraid you would become willing to die, and I feared if you did the Lord would take you away, and I did not want you to die and leave your husband and children."


1 Smith's His. Maysville Church, pp. 3, 4.
2 Ibid, p. 4.
3 The late Wm. Taylor, Esq., of Nelson Co.
4 The late Mrs. Basey, of Spencer Co.
5 HIckman's Narrative, pp. 28, 29.
6 For the facts of Mr. Bailey's life the author is indebted to his grandson, Judge W. G. Bailey.
7 Semple's HIs. Va. Bap., p. 156.
8 History of Ten Churches, p. 282.


[John Henderson Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists, 1885; rpt. CHR&A, 1984. - jrd]

Chapter 8
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