Taken From Dr. J. H. Spencer's
History of Kentucky Baptists
The History of Tates Creek Association
By Dr. Fred Engle, Jr.
With Notes From The Compiler
Dr. Dennis L. Brewer
The written record of any body is never complete. A dear friend once confided, "To record the history of an organization is to merely provide a beginning point for future historians to expand, enlarge, and focus upon a never ending saga of life." I have found much truth in these words.
To begin the history of Tates Creek Association of Baptists, we can find no better source that the history of that body found in the pages of J. H. Spencer's A History of Kentucky Baptists.
Dr. Spencer undertook the work of writing a complete history of Baptists within Kentucky at the request of the General Association of Baptists in 1878. Ten years later, his work would be completed in two volumes. Volume I contains these words concerning the
The four churches spoken of above, met, by their messengers, at Jessamine Meetinghouse, Nov. 23, 1793.
"On motion, agreed to form an association of the four churches, which lately entered into union with the Regular brethren; and to make the terms of union their constitution."
The terms of union here referred to, were those offered by Elkhorn to South Kentucky, as a basis of union between the two bodies. These terms were rejected by a large majority of South Kentucky Association. They read as follows, and were now adopted as
After the Association was constituted, a committee; consisting of John Price, Andrew Tribble, Thomas Ammen, Robert Clark, and George Smith, was appointed to draw up rules of decorum, and prepare a letter of correspondence to the General Committee, in Virginia. Thomas Shelton was appointed to bear the letter but was massacred by the Indians, before he reached Virginia. Helps were sent to aid Unity church in adjusting her difficulties.
1794. Met at Forks of Dix River. Unity church, in Clark County, was received. Inquiry was made as to the union with Elkhorn being dissolved. A letter was written to the General Committee, but no one was appointed to bear it, this year. It was agreed that one preacher and two elders might constitute a church.
1795. May. Met at Head of Boones Creek. At the request of Otter Creek church, Andrew Tribble and Dosier Thompson were appointed to ordain Peter Woods and Cornelius Bowman if found qualified. According to an early custom of this body, appointments for preaching and communion, at several different churches, were made.
1795. October. Met at Hickmans Creek. Agreed to send a letter of correspondence to Holston Association, in East Tennessee. A committee was appointed to confer with Elkhorn Association, about terms of union. The committee was received by Elkhorn Association, in a most friendly spirit. It was recommended that the ministers of the two associations should preach together, and the brethren mingle with each other, that they might ascertain how nearly they were agreed in doctrine. This experiment proved satisfactory, and, in 1797, a correspondence was established between the two fraternities, that has continued to the present time.
1796. May. Met at Tates Creek, Madison County. Agreed to pay Carter Tarrant $3O for attending Holston Association. Peter Woods and Isaac Newland were appointed to visit the destitute brethren on Green river, with their ministerial labor.
1796. October. Met at Forks of Dix River, in Garrard County. The tabular statistics were recorded as follows:
Hickman T. AMMEN, J. Hudson, A. Bourn 32. Tates Creek A. TRIBBLE, J. Mobley, Isaac Newland 176. Forks of Dix River C. TARRANT, R. Hall, B. Ball, J. Hays 61. Howards Creek Joseph Embry 61. Dreaming Creek C. HARRIS, J. Woods, Peter Woods 90. Head of Boones Creek R. CLARK, A. Adams, J. Rash 45.
1797. Met at Head of Boones Creek. Muddy Creek, consisting of 20 members, was represented. A committee was appointed to look into the standing of the church at Big Pond (Hickmans Creek).
1798. The church on Pitman, now called Good Hope, in Taylor county, was received.
1799. Met at Tates Creek. The following churches were represented this year, for the first time: Viney Fork and Clear Creek, in Madison county. Sinking Creek and Flat Lick, in Pulaski, Stony Point, in Mercer, and Cedar Creek (now Crab Orchard), in Lincoln.
1800. Met at Forks of Dix River. The churches of Boffmans Fork, in Fayette county, and Hurricane (since called Mt. Salem,) in Lincoln, were received. It was agreed to have the minutes printed. Peter Bainbridge, an excluded preacher, had been received into Forks of Dix River church, this year, which was regarded disorderly. It was a singular circumstance, even at that period, that a Baptist association should exist seven years, without a name. Yet such was the case with this fraternity. At this meeting, it was agreed that this Association shall be known hereafter by the name of "Tates Creek Association."
1801. Met at Viney Fork. Three new churches were received: White Oak, Flat Woods, and Otter Creek. The Association expressed a hope that, through the negotiations of Elkhorn, a general union would be consummated.
Query. Is an immersion performed by a Pedobaptist scriptural? Ans. No.
This was a season of great prosperity. The Association had increased from 12 churches, with 579 members, in 1800, to 19 churches, with 1823 members, in 1801. The number of baptisms was not reported at this, or any preceding meeting of the body. But, in 1802, there were reported 22 churches, 192 baptisms, and 1,990 members. This was the Iargest number of members ever reported by the churches of this Association, except in 1828 and 1829, when about two-thirds of its membership were Campbellites.
In 1802, the following new churches were received: Calloways Creek, Sugar Creek, White Oak Pond, Brush Creek, Masons Fork and Silver Creek. Correspondence was established with Green River and South District Associations. In 1803, Mt. Tabor church was received, and, in 1804, Goose Creek, Double Springs, and Big Sinking were admitted to membership. Forks of Dix River, Flanging Fork, Stony Point, and Sugar Creek were dismissed, to join South District Association. Gilead church was received, in 1806, Forks of Cumberland, in Pulaski county, Station Camp, in Estill, and the church in Adair and Pulaski, in 1808, and Union church, in 1809. The territory of the Association had now become very large. Some of its churches were in Fayette county, and others were south of the Cumberland River, in Wayne county. It was deemed expedient, therefore, to form a new association of the more southern churches. Accordingly, at the date last named, it was voted that "the following churches, from the south part of this Association be dismissed, when joined in another association, according to the terms of general union: Big Sinking, White Oak, Sinking Creek, Forks of Cumberland, Union, and D Springs." Of these and two other churches, Cumberland River Association was formed, in 1809. In i810, Flat Lick and Hurricane churches were dismissed, to join Cumberland River Association.
In 1812, Jeremiah Vardeman and Silas M. Noel proposed to write a history of the rise and progress of the Baptists, in Virginia and Kentucky. The churches of Tates Creek Association were advised to furnish them with such materials as would aid them in tile enterprise. In 1813, New Providence and South Fork churches were received. In 1815 the Association unanimously agreed to correspond with the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions, and, in 1816, expressed the opinion that "it is not advisable for members of our society to join the Free Masons."
This body has embraced within its churches a number of prominent and influential citizens; but has usually had a weak and inefficient ministry, which, together with its antimission polity, and its antinomian doctrine, has prevented it from availing itself of the advantages it has had for becoming a strong and influential fraternity.
From this period till, 1828, the body had an even course of moderate prosperity; and nothing very remarkable occurred in its history. A considerable revival prevailed within its bounds, in 1818-19 and, during those two years, the churches reported 740 baptisms.
Tates Creek Andrew Tribble, Pastor (Josiah Phelps, Thomas Jarman) Crab Orchard Thomas Hansford, Pastor (M. Foley, J. Davis, D. Morehead) Mt. Nebo Abraham Newland, Pastor (J. Gentry, J. Elliott, Wm. Goodloe Viney Fork Jos. Ellison, Pastor (John Yates, Edmond Terrell) Hickman Joshua Hudson, Pastor (Zenus Darnill) Clear Creek John Bush, Pastor (Saten Cooper, John Owens) Boggs Fork Richard Morton, Pastor (A. Bush, T. Coatney, Jona. Parrish) Flat Woods Josiah Collins, Pastor (J. Cobb, J. Collins, , J. M. Moore) White Oak Pond (Richard Gentry, Thomas Turner, M. Baker) Otter Creek Henry Brook, Pastor (Richard Stivers) Masons Fork Absalom Foley Scaffold Cane John Clarke, Pastor ( M. Roberts) Gilead (Jos. Titus, B. Tudor) Station Camp Thomas Bellew, Pastor (A. Warford, James Scrivner) Union Robert Fryer, Pastor (C. B. Quesenberry, C. Smith) New Providence John Greenhalgh, Pastor (Durrel White, C. Gentry) Mt. Moriah John Shirley, Pastor (Samuel Maxey) Red Lick (B. Gentry, A. Parks, Wm. Haggard, N. Kindred)
The churches reported 1246 members. Boggs Fork reported 81 Baptisms during the year and New Providence reported 40. Total baptisms for the year reached 187.
But in 1828, a most remarkable excitement occurred among its churches. It was an excitement, however, that, instead of building it up, wasted and very nearly destroyed it. The introduction of Campbellism found the churches of this Association ill prepared to meet the plausible sophistries of that system. The early ministers of the body had all passed away, either to their home above, or to the newer settlements of the great West, and, with few exceptions, the churches were served by a very weak ministry. Many zealous proclaimers of Mr. Campbell's theories, among whom were some men of considerable ability, as the Creaths, Mortons, Josephus Hewett, and John Smith, visited the churches, and succeeded in leading off a number of their most active and zealous preachers. Baptizing people in order to the forgiveness of their sins, became the order of the day, and multitudes submitted to an old ordinance, with a new design.
When the Association met at Tates Creek, in Madison County, in 1828, the 25 churches, which then composed the body, reported 1,395 baptisms, which considerably more than doubled their aggregate membership. In 1829, the Association met at Red Lick, in Madison County. The churches reported 219 baptisms, making an aggregate of 1,614, during the "revival." Most of the converts were zealous Campbellites, and the "Reformation" had everything its own way, in the Association. The excitement, which had pervaded the people, rather than the churches, all over Northern Kentucky, and more especially within the bounds of Boones Creek, North District and Tates Creek Associations, had been an enthusiastic reception of Campbellism, rather than a revival of religion. The name and prestige of the Baptists had been used with such skill and assiduity, to convert the people to the new doctrine, that the old fraternity under consideration, had become practically Tates Creek Association of Campbellites. The Baptists in the body had become a small, rather than a large minority: and were entirely helpless, in the Association, as well as in a majority of the churches. This became so painfully manifest, that they resolved to separate from the Campbellites. Accordingly, they held a convention at Viney Fork, in Madison County, Friday, June 11, 1830, to consider the matter. After due consideration, the convention issued a protest, of which the following is the substance:
DEAR BRETHREN: We have lived long together, and have enjoyed the confidence and fellowship of each other. But now a number of our brethren in the ministry, professing to teach the ancient gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to have resumed the ground of the Apostles, are holding forth the following unscriptural doctrines:
1. That there is no promise of Salvation without baptism, and that this ordinance should be administered to all who say that they believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, without examination on any other point.
2. That there is no direct operation of the Spirit on the mind, prior to baptism.
3. That baptism procures the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.
4. That the Scriptures are the only evidence of an interest in Christ.
5. That obedience places it in God's power to elect to Salvation.
6. That no creed is necessary for the church, but the Scriptures, as they stand; and that all baptized persons have a right to administer that ordinance.
7. That there is no special call to the ministry.
8. That the law given by God to Moses is abolished.
9. That experimental religion is mere enthusiasm; and that there is no mystery in the Scriptures.
"They charge us with wishing to set up articles of human production in preference to the Bible. As we are either misunderstood, or misrepresented, we wish to let them and the world know, that we hold no instrument of writing, tantamount to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. But as every denomination of Christians goes to the Bible to support its views, we find it needful for the well being of any body of Christians, that they, in a plain, concise manner, state what they consider the essential truths of the gospel, and in some way make them public, so that every individual who may wish to become a member of their body, may act advisedly. Painful as it is, we feel it a duty which we owe to our Master, our brethren, the rising generation, and ourselves, to inform you that T. S. Bronston, Josiah Collins, J. R. Pond, F. Shoot, 0. C. Steele and Samuel Willis have, in their public exhibitions, held forth some of the above and other views, which we think are inconsistent with the gospel. Now, as we are commanded to mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which we have learned, and avoid them, we enter our protest against those brethren, and all those who adhere to, and advocate any of the above views."
The convention then adjourned to meet at New Providence church, on Friday before the 3rd Saturday in July, following. They met according to adjournment, and appointed to meet, as an association, the following month. Accordingly, the remnant of Tates Creek Association met at Round Top meetinghouse, in Madison County, August 28, 1830. Nine churches, aggregating 502 members, were represented. It was voted that this Association unanimously esteem it their duty to drop correspondence with any and every association, or church, where the heresy of Campbellism is tolerated.
Another meeting of Tates Creek Association of Baptists was held at Round Top with Associational Officers from the previous year Thomas Bellew as Moderator; Thomas Jerman, Jr. as Clerk continuing their service. The Introductory sermon for 1830 was delivered by David Chenault.
The Reformers met again in 1831 at Mount Nebo with Josiah Collins (one of those accused in the 1830 Convention of expounding a doctrine inconsistent with the scripture) was elected Moderator and delivered the Introductory Sermon. John Tribble was elected Clerk.
The Tates Creek Association of Regular Baptists also met in 1830 with the Bethel church. Thomas Wolverton was elected Moderator, Thompson Burnam as Clerk and Joel Morehead delivered the Introductory Sermon. This group met again in 1834 with the Flatwoods Church and in 1835 with the Tates Creek Regular Baptist Church. They met also in 1837 with the Richmond Church and Thomas Wolverton was continuing as Moderator; T. Burnam was Clerk and E. J. Ries delivered the Introductory Sermon.
Moses Foley, who had served as Moderator of the Reformist Associational Meeting in 1830, had been selected as Moderator of Tates Creek Association in 1845. He continued in that service, evidently, until 1855, being replaced by G. W. Broadus at the Associational meeting in 1856.
From this time, the Association gradually increased in numbers, till 1840, when it numbered 19 churches, with 1,124 members. During the next two years, it was reduced, by the Antimission schism, to 10 churches. But, being in the midst of a revival, it gained more than it lost: so that, in 1843, it numbered 13 churches, with 1,234 members. Since that time, it has experienced few vicissitudes. It lost some 500 members, by the severance of the colored people from its churches, during, and after the War. Since the Antimission split, it has heartily favored the benevolent enterprises of the denomination, and contributed to their support. Since 1800, according to its official records, there have been baptized into its churches, besides those baptized, during seven years, of which we have no report, 9,079 converts, Of these, 1,148 were baptized, in 1801, and 1,395 in 1828. In 1880, it embraced 20 churches, aggregating 1,592 members.
Much of the early history of Tates Creek Association has been based upon the early history as written by Dr. Spencer and we are indebted to him for his concise and authoritative record. It is unfortunate that records of the Association prior to 1852 are rarely available and that information concerning those earliest years can be found only in minutes of the churches, General Association of Baptists, and family histories.
The churches listed in 1903 were Berea, Crab Orchard, Carter's Chapel, Drakes Creek. Foreman's Chapel, Freedom, Friendship, Fairview. Harmony, Harris Branch, Gilead, Good Hope, Hays Fork, Kirksville, Liberty, Maple Grove, Mt. Tabor, Richmond, Silver Creek, Scaffold Cane, Tates Creek, Tyrone, Viney Fork, Waco, and Wallaceton. In 1907Beech Grove was accepted into the Association bringing the number of churches to 21. The messengers agreed to organize a Sunday School Convention. Religious periodicals recommended were the Western Recorder, Baptist Argus, Kentucky Mission Monthly, Foreign Mission Journal, and Home Field. That year the largest churches were Tats Creek (335), Liberty (Garrard) (291), Richmond (290), Tabor (271), and Gilead (229). There were ads from American Baptist Publication Society in Philadelphia for Bibles, fiction, poetry, and Sunday School buttons.
In 1913 we find Forman's Chapel, Friendship, Tyrone and Harris Creek not reporting to the association. However, we find Red House and Turners Chapel added to the membership. Total membership that year was listed as 3,452. In 1915 there were churches listed including White Lick. Baptist schools listed were Georgetown, Bethel. Bethel Female, Cumberland, Hazard Institute, Russels Creek Academy , (Campbellsville), Oneida Institute, Prestonsburg Institute (under the Baptist Education Society), McGoffin Institute and Barbourville Institute, maintained by the Home Mission Board. Religious literature which was recommended to be read included the Western Recorder and Dr. Porter's book, World Debt to Baptists. By 1923 membership was up to 4,532. Dropping out was Turner's Chapel, but added during that ten year period were Calvary, Gilbert's Creek, and Pilot Knob.
During the next ten years membership dropped to 4,383. Beech Grove, Crab Orchard, Drake's Creek and Fairview had left the association by 1933. The first three churches, plus Harmony, were located near Crab Orchard. In 1942 membership had increased to 5,721. Beech Grove was reporting again; Broadway and Elk's Creek had been admitted to membership.
In 1925 Rev. W. P. Rogers of Paint Lick reported to the Association on District Mission Work (places within the association needing the gospel of Christ preached). Fairview and Crab Orchard left to join the Lincoln County Association. That same year Maywood of Stanford asked for admission, and a committee was appointed to examine their articles of faith. G. L. Borders was elected moderator, replacing Elvada Tudor.
In 1927 it was reported that the associational executive committee had sought to secure the services of an associational missionary. For a short time, through the kindness of the State Mission Board, the services of Rev. J. L. Dotson were obtained. This is the first indication of a person in this position. That same year it was recorded that the manuscripts of the associational minutes from 1855 to 1917 were sent to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. Churches not listed were Beech Grove, Drake's Creek, Harmony, and Pilot Knob.
Maywood, which had asked admission in 1925, asked for a letter of dismissal in 1929 to unite with the Lincoln County Association. Tates Creek Association again listed Harmony and Pilot Knob as members. That same year the association requested $1,000 from the State Mission Board to help with mission work but the board said no funds available. However, during May, J. S Ransdell was sent by the State Mission secretary to help the weaker churches in the association.
Harmony and Valley View churches were reported as weak at the 1931 meeting, but in 1932 it was announced that they had been revived via associational mission campaigns. W. R. Royce was listed as pastor at Viney Fork. Scaffold Cane and Crab Orchard were listed as members in 1931, not in 1932. However, Scaffold Cane was on the list again in 1933.
At the 1933 meeting, G. L. Borders, been moderator since 1925, declined to serve further. He was replaced by W. C. Caldwell. Borders became the associational clerk. Bro. Royce moved to Calvary in Richmond. In the Executive Board report it was noted that Bro. Henry King of Hays Fork had organized Sunday Schools and held meetings at High Point and at Pevtontown. The messengers at this associational meeting voted to discontinue the practice of asking the host church to serve dinner. The hosts would supply only drinks.
In 1936 the association met at the Tates Creek to church to help them celebrate their 150th anniversary. Mission Sunday Schools and preaching services were held at Buffalo and Watts schools and at Beech Grove. Twenty-two churches were on the associational roll.
Henry King reported in 1937, under District Missions, that he had established regular preaching services at the Beech Grove school and that the associational mission program was to be correlated by the executive board. W. R. Royce was serving both Calvary and Gilead. He served as moderator in 1939 when Bro. King announced that he had organized a mission at Peytontown and was preaching half time at Beech Grove. Others were doing mission work the association as well, and a resolution passed to hold various missionary rallies around the associational area.
1940 found the admission of Elk Creek Baptist Church of West Middletown, Ohio, into membership. This was the farthest the association had ever reached to extend fellowship to a member church. Bro. J. Edwin Hewlett of First Baptist, Richmond, led a Vacation Bible School in a tobacco warehouse, and after further services there, the outgrowth became Broadway Baptist. Broadway joined the association in 1941. It had become a church after a revival meeting sponsored by First Baptist and Calvary Baptist (itself the first mission of First Baptist) with preaching by Bro. V. B. Castleberry. Castleberry became Broadways first pastor. Also that year Bro. Hewlett held a meeting in Bro. Castleberry's tent in the Rosedale section of Richmond, from which came Rosedale Baptist, First Baptist's third mission church.
The 150th annual session of the association was held in 1943 at First Church in Richmond. The session was dedicated to long-time Baptist worker, Morris K. Calico, who had been born in 1852 and been a member of Gilead church since he was 13. Galilee church and Rosedale church, Eldred Taylor, pastor, were admitted as members. A history of the association by Morris Calico, Dr. Fred A. Engle, Sr., and C. L. Borders was printed in the minutes. The executive board reviewed a map of the association and outlined a mission field for each church. Dr. S. S. Hill of Georgetown College spoke. Bro. Royce was preaching at Calvary and Beech Grove.
[Document supplied by D. L. Brewer, Richmond, KY.]