Baptist History Homepage
A History of Kentucky Baptists
By J. H. Spencer
Volume II, 1885
Barren River Regular - 503-506, Middle District - 506-507, Bethlehem Regular - 507-509, Paint Union - 509-513,
Otter Creek - 513-514, Liberty - 514-528, Mount Pleasant - 528-529, Bays Fork - 530-541,
Salem Predestinarian - 541-542, Tates Creek Predestinarian - 542-543, Orignial Barren River, United - 543-546
Barren River Regular Baptist Association
[p. 503] This small body broke off from Barren River Association on account of its tolerating the Baptist State Convention and other benevolent societies. The following six churches, or rather fragments of churches, comprised the schism: Dripping Spring, Glovers Creek, Skaggs Creek, Mt. Vernon, Mt. Pisgah and Green River. These churches, which aggregated 145 members, met by their messengers, at Glovers Creek meeting house in Barren county, on the 4th Saturday in July, 1837, and organized under the style of "Barren River Association of United Baptists -- united upon the principles of sovereign grace." The body thus formed proceeded to claim the original constitution of Barren River Association, set forth the proof on which it based its claim, and announced its readiness to receive all churches, parts of churches, or individuals, who held firmly to the constitution, and were upright in practice. In accordance with a request from all the churches in the body, it declared “non-fellowship with the Baptist State Convention, missionary [societies], and all their unscriptural tributary streams and Arminian doctrine.” It also agreed to dispense with the practice of choosing a minister, a year before, to preach the introductory sermon.
Andrew Nuckols was the principal preacher and the prime
leader in the body. At its first meeting, the Association set forth the facts, that Mr. Nuckols had been excluded from Pleasant Hill church for publishing a certain pamphlet; that he had uniformly opposed monied institutions; that he had publicly opposed John S. Wilson's preaching at the stand, at Glover's Creek, in 1833; that it was he who made the motion in Barren River Association, in 1835, to declare non-fellowship for the Baptist State Convention; that he opposed correspondence with Green River Association, and that, upon the testimony of Asa Young, he had a writ served upon him for interrupting a congregation assembled at Pleasant Hill, for public worship, in May, 1836. These statements were made to show the faithfulness of Mr. Nuckols, and the persecutions he had suffered for righteousness' sake. The reader will be his own judge as to how much credit he deserved for the course he pursued. It may be observed that the case of prosecution was compromised without cost to the defendant.
In 1839, the Association agreed to be known as Regular Baptists; and, in 1851, it declared: "We do believe the doctrine of Two-Seeds as set forth in the Bible;" i.e. as the Bible was interpreted by Daniel Parker. The only other noticeable transaction of the body was its declaration, in 1855, of nonfellowship, for the American party, popularly denominated the Know-Nothing Party, a political organization of the period.
This fraternity, as might be expected, enjoyed but a small degree of prosperity. Its greatest numerical strength was attained in 1847, when it numbered 8churches, aggregating 167 members. From that period, it gradually declined, till 1878, when it numbered 3 churches, aggregating only 53 members. It is probable that it has not met since that date. From its constitution, in 1837, to its meeting in 1878, there were, according to its official reports, baptized into the fellowship of its churches, 88 persons.
Andrew Nuckols, the only preacher of any considerable ability that has been connected with this fraternity, was born of Baptist parents, in Goochland county, Va., April 4, 1782. He was led to Christ under the preaching of Wm. Webber, by whom he was baptized into the fellowship of Nuckols church in his native county, about the year 1800. After his marriage to Patsy, daughter of Joseph Preyer, he moved to Kentucky, and
settled in Jefferson county, in 1804. Here he probably united with Old Beargrass church. In 1807, he moved to Barren county, and united with Mt. Pleasant church, where, after some years, he was ordained to the ministry, by John Warder and John B. Lougan. He soon became pastor of Glovers Creek, Mt. Vernon, Mt. Pisgah and Pleasant Hill churches, all in Barren county, and all belonging to Green River Association. Mr. Nuckols is said to have been an active, zealous and useful preacher, for a number of years. But having adopted Daniel Parker’s Two-Seeds theory, he became strongly opposed to missions. He was a preacher of above ordinary ability, a man of tireless persistence and energy, and a partizan zealot of fierce intolerance. With these qualities, he became leader of an Antimissionary party in Green River Association. In 1830, the churches in the southern part of that fraternity, where opposition to missions was strongest, organized Barren River Association, Mr. Nuckols being the leader in the movement. The Baptist State Convention was organized, in 1832, and about the same time, the spirit of missions began to be developed in Barren River Association. Mr. Nuckols was very active in trying to suppress every tendency in that direction. Party spirit became rife in some of the churches, and, in 1835, Mr. Nuckols procured the passage of a resolution, by the Association, declaring "non-fellowship for the Baptist State Convention and all like institutions of the day." There was strong opposition to the passage of this resolution, and the mover feared it would be reversed the next year. Meanwhile, the leaders of both parties were extremely active among the churches, in advocating their respective principles. Mr. Nuckols became so excited and turbulent, that a writ was served on him for disturbing a worshiping assembly. The excitement ran very high, during the year. When the Association met, in 1836, there was but one messenger absent, from all of the 18 churches comprising the body. The resolution of the previous session was rescinded. This act was decisive. Mr. Nuckols lost hope of bringing the Association to his views. In July of the following year, he succeeded in organizing the small fraternity whose history has just been given. After this, his labors were confined to the little scattered churches of his own sect, and, it is feared, were productive of evil, rather than good. But he seemed to have an intense conviction
of the correctness and importance of the principles he advocated; and he continued to preach them with unwearied zeal and activity, not only in Kentucky, but among the people of his faith, in the surrounding States, until his strength failed. He died of disease of the kidneys, April 24, 1856.
In private life, Mr. Nuckols was a man of unimpeachable moral character. His errors were those that originated in his false philosophy. His last words were: "What was the errand of Jesus in this world?" [Then pausing a moment, he concluded:] "To save sinners."
Middle District Association
This fraternity was located in Shelby and some of the adjoining counties, and was constituted, on the 9th of April, 1837, of the following churches: Bethel, Beech Creek and Mt. Moriah, in Shelby county, and Pigeon Fork, in Anderson. At the first meeting of the body, Bethlehem church in Spencer county was received, and the Association then numbered five churches, aggregating seven hundred and four members. The principal ministers of the young fraternity were John Holland and Moses Scott, of whom something has been said elsewhere. The body enjoyed a good degree of prosperity, for a few years, and, in 1844, numbered nine churches with 1,436 members. This was the largest aggregate membership it ever attained. The antimissionary spirit began to be developed in some of its churches, and most, or all of them were wanting in enterprise. Its ministers, too, were weak and inefficient, after the death of Mr. Holland. Bethel church withdrew from the body, and Beech Creek soon followed its example.
In 1859, the Association appointed a missionary board, consisting of Henry White, W. Watts and B. Harding, to endeavor to supply the destitute portions of its territory with preaching. The board secured the services of David Bruner as missionary. But it was able to collect only $48 during the year, and the missionary was employed only thirty-two days, at a salary of $1 per day. Some attempts were made to keep up missionary operations within the bounds of the Association; but the churches were wanting in liberality, and but little was
accomplished. The body gradually declined in numbers, and still more in efficiency; and, after the constitution of Shelby County Association, in 1872, it formally dissolved. It was the means, however, of accomplishing some good, while it existed. Its churches enjoyed some very precious revivals. In 1843, its eight churches reported 301 baptisms, and, in 1868, its eleven churches reported 237 baptisms. The Association numbered, in 1850, eight churches with 895 members; in 1860, twelve churches with 1,243 members, and in 1870, eight churches with 1,109 members. During twenty-five of the firstthirty-three years of its existence, there were baptized into the fellowship of its churches, 2,066 converts.
Old Churches. Of Bethel (formerly Tick Creek) and Beech Creek, some account has been given. Salem (formerly Beech Ridge) was constituted of thirty members, in 1811. It was probably gathered by Thomas Martin, who was a preacher among its members, a short time. The famous James P. Edwards of West Union Association was licensed to preach by this church, and John C. Freeman was raised up to the ministry among its members. Mt. Moriah was constituted of about twenty members, in 1818, or '19. It was probably gathered by Francis Davis, who went into its constitution.
William G. Hobbs was one of the most efficient preachers in this fraternity, for a number of years. He is a native of Nelson county, and a brother of the well known Dr. S. M. Hobbs of Mt. Washington. He took the pastoral charge of Salem and other churches in its vicinity, about 1853, and served the Association as moderator, from 1855 till 1861. Soon after the latter date, he moved into the bounds of Long Run Association, and took charge of Elk Creek, Plum Creek and other churches in that fraternity. He is a preacher of good gifts, a pleasing and attractive speaker, and has been a successful pastor. About 1872, he moved to Kansas, where he still resides.
Bethlehem Association of Regular Baptists
This small body was evidently the outgrowth of the preaching and intriguing of the indefatigable Andrew Nuckols. In his efforts to prevent Stocktons Valley Association from following
the example of Barren River, in tolerating the Kentucky Baptist Convention and other benevolent institutions, he visited the meetings of the former fraternity, and frequently spent some time among its churches. He failed to bring the Association to his views, especially on the Two-Seeds doctrine, but succeeded in producing discord in several of its churches, and attaching two or three preachers to his party. Under his advice, and the leadership of William Cross, four fragments of churches, bearing the names of Jordan, Clear Fork, Seventy-Six and Line Creek, met by their messengers, at Clear Fork meeting house in Clinton county, on the 17th of November, 1838, for the purpose of forming an association. A constitution was adopted, one article of which reads thus: "The churches composing this Association shall stand in the same relation to each other as individual members do to [each other in] churches." Article 2d of the abstract of principles reads as follows: "We believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as translated by King James, to be the Word of God, and the only rule of faith and practice." The 8th article of the same instrument, reads: "We believe the modern mission system, in all its various branches, is unscriptural; for which we are resolved to have no fellowship with either associations, churches or individuals, who do directly, or indirectly, favor them [it]."
The organization having been effected, that body assumes the title of "Bethlehem Anti-Mission Baptist Association." This, it is believed, is the only body in the State that has incorporated the term Anti-Mission in its title. This befitting but unique name, was changed, in 1840, by substituting the term "Regular" for Anti-Mission. In 1841, the body attained a membership of six churches, aggregating seventy-seven members. The same year, it gave its reasons for having withdrawn from Stocktons Valley Association, chief among which was, that the mother fraternity had "fallen into disorder by favoring the Baptist State Convention and modern-mission system, through her correspondence with disorderly Barren River Association." But no reasons for its existence could prevent its decay. It never attained an aggregate membership of one hundred, and, in a few years, it was finally dissolved. Its ministers were James Crouch, Isaac Denton (not the famous pioneer of that name,) Joel Henly, and William Cross.
William Cross was the most prominent preacher in this fraternity, and, before he was led off by Andrew Nuckols, was a zealous and useful minister of Christ. He was a native of East Tennessee, it is believed, and was born September 7, 1786. At about the age of eighteen years, he moved with his widowed mother to what is now Clinton county, Ky. During the British War of 1812 to '15, he served as a soldier, for which he drew a pension in the latter years of his life. During a revival which prevailed in his neighborhood, in 1820, he professed conversion and united with Clear Fork church in Clinton county. In July, 1821, just a year after his baptism, he was licensed to preach, and was ordained to the ministry, in June, 1824. He was called to the care of Clear Fork church, and afterwards, to that of Seventy-Six and Long Bottom. In these charges, he was comfortable and useful, till he had the misfortune to fall ill with Andrew Nuckols, from whom he imbibed Parker’s Two-Seeds doctrine, and a strong aversion to missions. After this, he succeeded in leading off factions from at least two of the churches to which he ministered. Of these, and other similar factions, he organized the little fraternity whose history has just been given. After the dissolution of this body, he had little scope for preaching, and the latter part of his ministry was unfruitful. But, however erratic his faith, he was highly esteemed for his simple piety, his amiability, and his upright life. He died at his home, one mile north of Albany, in October, 1876.
Paint Union Association
This is the largest body of Baptists on the eastern border of the State. In doctrine, it is in harmony with the great body of the Baptist denomination; but in polity, it is opposed to benevolent societies as means of promoting the cause of religion. It bears the name of United Baptists, believes in a general atonement, and practices feet washing as a religious ordinance. The following extract from the minutes of Burning Spring Association, of October, 1837, will show its origin:
"This Association, taking into consideration the bounds of their churches; and the distance being so great, that they
do unanimously and friendly agree to form another association, on the waters of Big Sandy, and to keep up a friendly correspondence with each other, and that the churches of Union, Bethel, Big Blain, Open Fork of Paint, Georges Creek, Rockcastle and Silver Creek compose that association; and that they send letters and messengers to attend at the Union meeting house in Floyd county, Ky., on the second Saturday in April, to enter into their constitution, and make their necessary arrangements for that Association; and that brethren Wm. Coffee, Benjamin Caudill, Wallace Bailey and Elijah Prater attend, there and then, to assist them in their business."
In accordance with this arrangement, the body was constituted, under the style of "Union Association of United Baptists." Afterwards, learning that there was another association of the same name, in the State, it prefixed the word "Paint" to its title, in 1840. Of the seven churches named in its constitution, Silver Creek was located in Cabell county, Va., the others in Kentucky.
This fraternity enjoyed a good degree of prosperity, from the beginning. Its first regular meeting was held at Georges Creek in Lawrence county, in September, 1838. William Wells preached the introductory sermon, and was also elected moderator. He filled both of these positions, three successive years. Henry Jayne, father of the well known Elder William Jayne of Flat Gap, Johnson county, was the first clerk of the body. At this meeting, the Association reported sever, churches, aggregating 333 members. The growth of the body was so rapid that, in 1843, it numbered fourteen churches with 632 members. But, in 1848, Zion Association was constituted, and, the following year, Mates Creek Association was organized, both on its southern border; so that, in 1850, it was reduced to ten churches, with 397 members. From this period to the present, it has enjoyed a regular, healthy growth. In 1860, it numbered thirteen churches with 769 members, in 1870, sixteen churches with 1,055 members, and, in 1880, twenty-four churches with 1,980 members. Its statistics for five years, principally of its early history; are wanting. During the remaining thirty-nine years, from its constitution, in 1838, to its meeting, in 1881, there were baptized into the fellowship of its churches, 2,427 converts.
[p. 511 ]
Burning Spring church is the oldest and largest in this Association. It is located on Licking river, in Magoffin county, and was constituted of twelve members, about the year 1810, by the famous pioneer, Daniel Williams, who ministered to it until his death. Since his death, it has been served by Samuel Hannah, Ezekiel Stone, Caleb May, Wm. Coffee, Ambrose Jones, Wm. Ferguson, Benjamin Caudill and C.W. Baley. Its principal growth has been attained under the ministry of Mr Baley, who has been its pastor many years. Three churches have been constituted from it, and, in 1881, it numbered 171 members.
William Wells appears to have been the most prominent leader in this Association, at the time of its constitution. He was the first moderator, and served in that capacity three years. He also preached the introductory sermon three years in succession. But nothing more is said of him. He probably either died or moved away, about 1841.
John Borders was in the constitution of this fraternity, and was among its most active and useful laborers. He was born of Methodist parents, in Virginia, about 1792. While a small boy, he was brought by his parents to Johnson county, Ky., where he was raised up in the mountainous wilderness. He professed conversion when young but hesitating as to what church he should join, he did not unite with any, for some years. At length he decided in favor of the Baptists, and was immersed by Samuel Hannah, for the fellowship of Georges Creek church, about the year 1827. He soon began to exercise in public prayer and exhortation, and was licensed to preach about 1829. As he was uneducated, and not especially gifted, he improved very slowly, but he was useful as an exhorter, in which capacity he labored about ten years. Meanwhile he established a good religious reputation, and gained the confidence and affection of the people. He was ordained to the ministry, about 1839, by Samuel Hannah and Elias Cazee. He was soon called to the care of Georges Creek church, to which he ministered many years. Among the churches he raised up, before and after he was ordained, were Silver Creek, Rockcastle, Hoods Fork, Toms Creek, and Little Blain. To all of these, he ministered until they could procure pastors.
In 1841, he succeeded Wm. Wells, both as preacher of the introductory sermon, and moderator of Paint Union Association. The latter position he filled nine successive years, and four years, at a later period. After a long and useful ministry, he died March 13th, 1879, aged eighty-seven years.
Cornwallis Baley has been among the most prominent ministers of this Association, from its constitution, to the present time (1885). He is a son of Joseph Baley, and was born in Henry county, Va., Sept. 10, 1802. When he was eighteen months old, his parents moved to Lee county, and in 1807,emigrated to Floyd county, Ky., and settled at the Big Meadows on Licking river. Here young Baley grew up to manhood. He describes his surroundings during his boyhood, as follows “Our neighbors were mountains, rocks, and canebrakes, inhabited by wild beasts of the forests; our clothing was taken from the gray and red buck that roamed among the hills; our meal was beaten in a mortar, baked in the fire, and called ash-cake; our meat was bear, venison, turkey, and wild honey. We lived happily among the canebrakes on Licking river.”
In the 22d year of his age, Mr. Baley was married to Polly Patrick, and at the age of twenty-nine, was convicted of sin, under the preaching of William Adams, a Baptist, and William Cundiff, a Methodist. He had been raised under Presbyterian influence, but did not long hesitate, after his conversion, to join the Baptist church at Burning Spring in what is now Magoffin county, where he was baptized by Ezekiel Stone, in November, 1831. Deeply impressed with the worth of souls, he soon began to exhort sinners to repent; and, in April, 1833, was ordained to the ministry. Soon after his ordination, he accepted a call to Burning Spring church, to which he still ministers. He wrote to the author, in December, 1881, as follows "I am now going on eighty years old. I have the charge of three churches and two other regular preaching places. I preach funeral discourses over ten counties. I have traveled through West Virginia ten times, through Kentucky, as far Frankfort, and preached at that city, Richmond, Mt. Sterling, Booneville and many other places." The great popularity of Mr. Baley is evinced in the fact that he preached the introductory sermon before his Association, on at least ten occasions, within twenty-seven years. Like Caleb of old, the aged veteran
of the cross was still strong for war, and was doing good service in the Master’s cause, when last heard from.
James Pelphry who has been moderator of the Association, since 1870, R. H. Murray and Jeremiah Caudill are, at present, prominent preachers in the fraternity.
Otter Creek Association
This fraternity extended over a territory embracing more than a dozen counties, lying around Louisville. It originated in the general confusion that pervaded the denomination, on the subject of missions and benevolent societies, after the organization of the Kentucky Baptist State Convention. The churches of which it was composed were, in a few cases, majorities, but more generally minorities of churches that had split on the exciting subject. Seven of these fragments of churches met, by their messengers, at Otter Creek meetinghouse in Mead county, on the 25th of October, 1839, and formed "Otter Creek Regular Baptist Association." The following churches, which aggregated 376 members, were in the constitution: Elk Creek, Otter Creek, Union, Sinking Creek, Hill Grove, Ephesus and Bethlehem.
The Association grew quite rapidly, for a time. Within a year after its constitution, it numbered 13 churches, with 502 members. In 1842, it numbered 21 churches, with 760 members. This was the largest membership it ever attained. It had not only declared itself opposed to all benevolent enterprises, but had adopted, as its faith, a species of Antinomian philosophy, which obviated the necessity of any christian effort, and gave ample scope for the vague speculations of its illiterate preachers.
Enoch S. Tabor, perhaps the most gifted minister of the body, but by no means of the best religious reputation, came to the conclusion that the resurrection of the body was unphilosophical, and began to declaim against that item of christian doctrine. He had been appointed to preach the introductory sermon before the Association, at its meeting at Mt. Pleasant in Franklin county, in 1847. But having been busy during the year preaching against the doctrine of the resurrection, and
(what was almost as bad, in the eyes of the fraternity,) having joined the Free Masons, he was prohibited from preaching the sermon; and Ephesus and Brush Creek churches, and a majority of Mt. Tabor church, were excluded from the Association, for receiving his doctrine. In 1851, four churches of the body were reported dissolved. In 1855, it was reduced to eighteen churches with 339 members. After a few more annual meetings, it ceased to convene altogether, and it is probable that no one of its churches has now even a nominal existence. We have statistics of the Association for twelve years, during which there were baptized into the fellowship of its churches, seventythree persons.
Among the most respectable ministers of this body, were Benjamin Keith and his nephew, Waller Keith.
This large and prosperous body originated in a split in the old Green River fraternity, on the subject of missions, in 1840. But the origin of the split dated much further back. Green River Association, like all others in the State, at an early period was warmly in favor of missions. As late as 1820, it recommended, in its circular letter, “Bible societies,” “missionary societies,” home and foreign missions, the support of ministers and the means of qualifying them for their labors. Two years later, it said, in its circular letter: “While praying the Lord of the harvest for more laborers, our alms for their support should ascend before God for a memorial.” But about this time, thenotorious Daniel Parker and some other preachers came into the Association, and preached, with great vehemence, against missionary societies. The churches were generally illiterate, and they all held in remembrance the traditions of their fathers, concerning the oppression of “Episcopal taxes,” in Virginia and the Carolinas, and they began to be suspicious, that missionary societies, conducted by learned and talented men, were in some way designed to take away their liberties, and oppress them with taxes. This caused many to set themselves against all benevolent societies, while the more enlightened still warmly favored missions. A division of sentiment in the body was a necessary
consequence. In 1824, "on motion to introduce a system of itinerant preaching throughout the churches of Green River Association, a large majority voted in the negative." The next year, the Association expressed its disapproval of a Baptist tract society, located in Washington City.
The Missionary party, finding itself powerless to effect anything in the Association; remained quiescent, several years, contenting itself with contributing privately to missionary enterprises. Even this caused some murmuring. But, in 1834, it secured a recommendation, by the Association, "that the churches should not make the subject of the Kentucky Baptist Convention a test of fellowship." In 1836, the Association declared, "That as a body, this Association has never had any connection with the Kentucky Baptist State Convention;" but at the same time, it advises, "that churches and individuals should be left free to act as they think the Scriptures require." This was not satisfactory to either party. The Missionaries desired the privilege of combining their efforts in the cause of missions. Accordingly, in 1837, a move was made to adopt some plan to secure a more general preaching of the gospel, within the bounds of the Association, and for the supply of the destitute; but"“the motion was over-ruled."
The next year, an extensive revival prevailed, and the hearts of the brethren were softened; so that nothing was said, in the body, on the exciting subject of missions. But, in 1839, the Anti-missionary party was largely in the majority, in the Association, and were correspondingly arrogant and domineering. A charge was preferred against Glasgow, Mt. Olive and Bowling Green churches, “for having joined, or represented themselves, as churches, in the General Association.” The case was referred to the churches, with a request that they send up their decision to the next Association. Correspondence with Gasper River Association was dropped, because she "held missionary churches in her body." The Missionary party now saw that it could expect no quarters from the Association. A proposition was made, therefore, "that this Association come to a friendly division, and that all members, friendly to missionary efforts, be lettered off from this body." This proposition was referred to the next Association, and the Missionary party was defeated in its last effort to obtain relief. It had now only the
alternative of submission to an intolerant majority, or revolution. It speedily chose the latter.
The Messengers of the Missionary churches appointed a meeting for consultation. This meeting convened at Glasgow, on the 12th of June, 1840. Messengers were present from the following churches: Mt. Tabor, Bowling Green, New Hope, Three Springs, Salem, Mt. Olive, Glasgow and Liberty Hill. Jacob Lock was chosen Moderator, and Richard Garnett, Clerk. The following preamble and resolutions were adopted:
"Whereas, We have for several years past witnessed in the Green River Association a departure from the former usages of that body, and a culpable opposition to the missionary enterprise -- an enterprise not only authorized, but made obligatory by the Savior’s last command: 'Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel.'
'And, whereas, said Association, by arraigning, at its last session, Bowling Green, Glasgow and Mt. Olive churches, for representing themselves in a missionary body, (the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky,) invaded the sacred precincts of church sovereignty, and interfered with liberty of conscience in religious matters; therefore,
"Resolved, That we decidedly disapprobate, and sincerely regret the course pursued by the Green River Association.
"Resolved also, That we, in the name of the churches we represent, withdraw from said Association, that we may worship God, and labor for the extension of the kingdom of Christ, according to the dictates of our consciences.
"Resolved, further, That it is expedient now to organize a new association, on principles securing the invaluable privilege of serving God agreeably to the requisitions of his word."
The meeting then adopted a constitution, abstract of principles, and rules of decorum, assuming the title of "Liberty Association of United Baptists." The 8th article of the constitution reads thus: "Every church and individual member shall be at liberty to give to, or withold from the benevolent institutions of the day; and giving, or witholding, or joining any of those institutions, shall be no bar to fellowship." The new Association appointed its next meeting to be held at Mt. Tabor meeting house, and invited sister churches agreeing with them in faith and practice, to meet with them, by letter and messengers.
According to this arrangement, the Association met at Mt. Tabor, on the 31st of July, 1840. J. M. Pendleton preached from Matthew 5:16. The officers of the preceding meeting were re-elected. The church at Union Chapel was admitted into the union. It was agreed to solicit correspondence with Barren River, Bethel, Russells Creek, Gasper River and Goshen Associations. The claims of the American and Foreign Bible Society were presented, and a collection of $31.30 taken up to promote its objects. It was recommended that each church in the Association hold a protracted meeting during the ensuing year.
The next meeting of the body was held at Salem, in Barren county, commencing August 14, 1841. The year had been a prosperous one. At its constitution, the body numbered eight churches; at its meeting the same year, at Mt. Tabor, it reported eight churches with 645 members; and, at its meeting, in 1841, eleven churches, 225 baptisms, and 908 members. Moses Aikin was appointed to labor as missionary within the bounds of the Association, and a board, or, as it was then called, a committee, was appointed to conduct the affairs of the mission. This committee, which was the first missionary board of Liberty Association, consisted of the following brethren: Peyton Cook, James Lock, John Burnam, John Jones, A. M. Barret, A. Ford, John White, Isaac Newland, T. B. Drake, Isham Hardy, A. A. Gossam, Henry Eubank, J. M. Anderson, Rob. C. Blakey, and David T. Busby. The board reported to the next Association that Moses Aikin had labored six months, John Jones and James Lock, six weeks each, and that, after paying the missionaries, there was a balance of $23 in the treasury. Moses Aikin was again appointed, for the following year. In 1843, the report of the board was not printed. But Mr. Aikin was again, and for the third year, appointed missionary -- this time, by private ballot -- and his salary was fixed at $300, together with whatever sums might be contributed to him, where he should labor. Of this year's proceedings, no report was made, except that the missionary’s salary was fully paid.
A spiritual dearth prevailed, during the year 1844, and the Association became dissatisfied with its plan of missionary operations. The new plan adopted, was to divide the Association into four districts; and the churches in each district were to appoint a board, consisting of one member from each church, which
board was to employ a missionary and provide for his support. This plan was tried two years, and proved inefficient. In 1846, the churches were advised to sustain their pastors, that they might give themselves wholly to the work; and all the ministers of the body were requested to preach among the destitute, as much as possible. Each preacher present was called upon to state how many days of missionary labor he would perform during the succeeding year. The subscription amounted to 257 days, thirty days of which was pledged by Isaac Newland, who promised to enable his pastor to redeem the pledge. This plan was operated ten years, and succeeded well. At first, the burden of the work rested principally on the preachers; but gradually the lay brethren adopted the example of Isaac Newland, and shared the burden with their pastors.
In 1856, a missionary was again employed. The plan adopted was that the General Association was to send an agent into the field, collect the necessary means, and pay the missionary. John G. Durham was appointed, and made an excellent report. The subsequent reports are obscure, but the plan seems to have been operated till the War put a temporary stop to the work. During the War, and for five years afterwards, the missionary labor was performed by the preachers, according to the plan adopted in 1846. In 1869, the work was again intrusted to the General Association. R. R. H. Gillock was appointed missionary, and succeeded well. This plan was followed two years, when the General Association declined further responsibility. The board of Liberty Association then assumed the full responsibility of the work, which has been prosecuted to the present time, substantially on the plan of 1841.
This Association prospered greatly, during the first three years of its existence, during which time it grew from eight churches with 654 members, to twenty churches with 1,639 members. It appears to have piously appreciated the goodness of God, in blessing it so abundantly. In 1843, it recommended the churches "to observe the first Saturday in January and July, as days of fasting and prayer to God, that he would continue his blessings, and pour out his spirit more copiously on the churches." The churches were especially urged to pray the Lord to send forth laborers into his harvest. In 1846, it was recommended, "that the first day of October and July be
observed as days of fasting and prayer, that God would revive his work." In 1855 it was recommended to the churches, "that they observe Saturday before the first Sabbath in October as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer to God, that he would humble our hearts, make us grateful for his innumerable blessings, and revive religion in our midst." The 25th of December, 1859, was recommended to the members of the churches as a day of fasting and prayer, without any specified object. This appears to have been the last fast recommended by this Association, and this pious custom of the fathers was allowed to fall into disuse. The subject of Sunday-schools was brought before this Association for the first time, in 1844, when the following resolution was adopted:
"Resolved, That the best interests of our churches and our country may be greatly promoted by the organization and fostering of Sunday-schools." The resolution appears to have remained a dead letter. Even the Association took no further notice of the subject, during the next eight years. In 1852, the ministers were "requested to present the subject of Sunday-schools and the monthly concert of prayer," to the churches. The manner of presenting the subject shows a want of interest in, and appreciation of it. In 1856, the Association showed the first real interest that it exhibited on that subject. A committee was appointed to report on Sabbath-schools. S. P. Forgy, pastor of Glasgow church, submitted a brief, but spirited report, to the following purport: "There are but few schools in operation, in our Association. We are neglecting an important means of moralizing and christianizing our land. It is to the youth that we must look for the future church. Shall we neglect them, and let them grow up in ignorance and vice, or shall we have a Sabbath-school established in every church and neighborhood?" A resolution was appended to the report, requesting the pastors to labor to establish a Sabbath-school in every church. From that period, this important branch of christian benevolence has received constantly increasing attention. In a report, submitted by A. W. Richardson, in 1870, it is said: "Your committee on Sabbath-schools hail with profound satisfaction, the evidence of a wide spread and deeper interest in this noble work. A few years ago, a Sunday-school
in one of our country churches, was the exception, now, in most localities, the absence of such a school is the exception."
The various leading objects of christian benevolence early engaged the attention of this body. Bible societies, Indian missions, foreign missions, the Colonization Society, and home missions all shared its sympathy and contributions. But, in 1848, it adopted a policy, which was peculiar, though, perhaps, not unwise. Feeling it impracticable to keep the churches sufficiently posted concerning all these enterprises, to enlist their intelligent cooperation, the Association resolved to concentrate its efforts in supporting one benevolent enterprise, aside from its domestic work, without, however, discouraging contributions to others. It made choice of the Indian mission, as the object of its especial encouragement. R. W. Thomas, was, at once employed to visit all the churches in the Associaciation, and explain to them the whole subject of Indian missions. During the ensuing year, the sum of $154.80 was collected, and appropriated to this enterprise. The mission was fostered in this manner, by the Association, a number of years.
In 1846, the treasurer of the printing fund was directed to expend the surplus money left in his hands, in purchasing books for the young preachers in the Association. Five years later, it was resolved to establish a book concern; and a small contribution was at once taken up for the purpose. R. W. Thomas was appointed agent for the new institution. R. T. Gardner succeeded him, in 1853, and was appointed to act as colporteur. No reports regarding the book concern, were published, and what it accomplished cannot be ascertained.
In 1851, it was, "Resolved, That a ministers' and deacons' meeting be held in the bounds of this Association, in the month of November, of each year, the object of which is to consult on the great interests of the Redeemer's kingdom." The first meeting of this organization, so far as can be ascertained, was held at Little Bethel, in Barren county, in November, 1852. It appears to have been soon dissolved; for, in 1857, the Association again recommended the organization of such a meeting. But this, if, indeed, it was organized at all, soon shared the fate of its predecessor. It was not till 1867, that the subject was referred to again. At this date, it was resolved to "revive
the ministers' and deacons' meeting," as it was believed to be "the best plan to arrive at the gifts" in the body.
The subject of education was introduced into the Associations, for the first time, in 1853. A committee reported in favor of establishing a high school within the bounds of the Association, "one of the grand objects" of which should be the educating of young preachers, free of charge. A charter was secured for such an institution. But this instrument proved unsatisfactory, and the enterprise failed. In 1870, a report made to the body by W. W. Durham, closes in these words: “We recommend that steps be taken to organize, locate, and put in operation a high school for Liberty Association.” A similar suggestion was made in the report on education, in 1871, with the additional suggestion that it be a female high school. A committee, consisting of P. H. Leslie, T. W. Dickey and C. T. Cheek was appointed to digest a plan, secure a charter and report to next Association. The enterprise was carried to a successful issue. The school was located in Glasgow, and, in 1875, the committee on education reported as follows: "We are happy to inform you that our female college building is now complete, and its halls will be opened the first Monday in September, for the reception of our daughters. The building is situated on an eminence commanding a splendid view of the town and surrounding country." The school has been in successful operation, about nine years, and has established an excellent reputation as an institution of learning.
The subject of temperance reform first received the attention of this body, in 1853. A committee, of which R. W. Thomas was chairman, made a report, which contains the following facts and sentiments: "We know of no subject which demands more earnest consideration. It is estimated that 30,000 drunkards die, every year, in the United States. Let every one abstain from intoxicating liquors as a beverage. The question of a prohibitory liquor law is likely to be agitated throughout the States. Will not every voter in the churches composing this body, vote in favor of such a law?" The next year, a resolution was adopted, advising "the churches and the members composing them, to abstain from the use of intoxicating liquors as a beverage, and to use their influence, in all proper ways, to promote entire abstinence." These sentiments, it is believed,
have been uniformly, though perhaps not unanimously, held by the Association, to the present time.
Some incidental transactions of the body are worthy of note. In 1855, it opposed the project of organizing a Green River General Association. The next year, in answer to a query from Blue Spring church, it expressed the following opinion: "It is the opinion of this Association that baptism belongs to the church; if the church thinks best, she may set apart any of her members to baptize; but we do not think that a deacon is authorized to baptize by virtue of his ordination to the deaconship." In 1858, the Association contributed $100 to aid J.G. Hardy, a young preacher, in procuring an education at Georgetown College. The following resolution, adopted in 1867, shows the feeling of the Association towards the colored people who had recently been their slaves: "Resolved, That we have only the kindest feeling of friendship for the colored man, and we will do every thing we ought to do, to ameliorate his condition." The following preamble and resolution defined the position of the Association, on the subject of alien baptism: "Whereas, Some Baptist churches have recognized the validity of Pedobaptist and Campbellite immersions, by receiving members from those congregations, without reimmersing them … Therefore, Resolved, That we advise and counsel our brethren of Liberty Association, that they abstain from this error, and that they fail not to enter their protest against the recognition of such immersions."
The progress of this body has been unusually regular, except, that, on two occasions, it dismissed a number of churches to join other associations. In 1850, it numbered 29 churches with 1,772 members; in 1860, 25 churches with 1,797 Members; in 1870, 31 churches with 2,785 members; in 1880, 50 churches with 3,872 members, and, in 1882, 41 churches with 3,602 members. From its constitution, in 1840, to its meeting, in 1882, there were baptized into the fellowship of its churches, 7,401 converts.
Old Churches. This fraternity embraces some of the oldest churches in the Green River country. Of Mt. Tabor, Blue Spring (originally, Mud Camp) and Sinking Creek, something has been said elsewhere. Salem, in Barren county,was constituted in 1804, and united with Green River Association. In
1812, it entered into the organization of Gasper River Association, and, in 1820, entered into the constitution of Drakes Creek Association. Two or three years later, it returned to Green River, and, in 1840, entered into the constitution of Liberty Association. Lonoke was constituted, near the present site of Woodsonville, in Hart county, under the name of "Green River," in 1803. It was afterwards moved two or three miles south, and took the name of Pleasant Hill: It assumed its present name, and occupied its present location, two miles from its ancient site, in 1878. Dover was constituted, about five miles south-west from Glasgow, in 1810, and was a member of Green River Association, till 1830, when it entered into the constitution of Barren River Association. It joined Liberty, in 1868. Cave City, formerly called New Hope, and Glasgow churches were constituted, in 1818. The remaining churches of this body are younger.
Among the early preachers of this Association were Jacob Lock, James Lock, J. M. Pendleton, Thomas Edwards, John Jones, A. Ford, R. W. Thomas, Moses Akin, Azariah Hatcher, J. B. Evans, James Brooks, Isaac N. Brown, R. C. Doyle and Wm. Hawkins. Of Jacob Lock, Thomas Edwards and James Brooks, some account has been given.
James Madison Pendleton, a son of John Pendleton, was born in Spottsylvania county, Va., November 20, 1811. His parents moved to Christian county, Kentucky, in 1812. Here he was raised upon a farm, attending the neighborhood schools, at such times as he could be spared from labor. By this means, he acquired some knowledge of reading, writing, arithmetic, geography and grammar. His parents were pious Baptists, and he was the subject of early religious impressions. At the age of 15 years, he commenced seeking religion with much earnestness. For about two years, he groped in darkness; but he was finally enabled by divine grace to trust in the Savior. He united with Bethel church, in Christian county, and, on the 14th of April, 1829, was baptized by John S. Wilson. In February, 1830, he was licensed to preach. For some time he labored under many doubts as to his call to the ministry; and some of the old ministers feared he would never make a preacher. Early in the year, 1833, he went to Hopkinsville and entered school, for the purpose of studying Greek and Latin. Meanwhile, he
accepted an invitation to preach, one Saturday and two Sundays in the month, to each of Hopkinsville and Bethel churches. Having moved his membership to the former, he was there ordained to the ministry, November 2, 1833, by Reuben Ross, Wm. Tandy, Wm. C. Warfield, and Robert Rutherford. He remained at Hopkinsville about four years, preaching and devoting himself to study.
At the beginning of the year 1837, he succeeded William Warder, then recently diseased, in the pastoral charge of the church at Bowling Green. Here he remained 20 years, with the exception of a few months, spent in Russellville, about 1850. On the 13th of March, 1838, he was married to Catherine S. daughter of Richard Garnett of Glasgow. In 1840, he entered with Bowling Green church into the constitution of Liberty Association, and, two years later, succeeded Jacob Lock as Moderator of that body. This position he filled during eight successive years. The church at Bowling Green prospered under his ministry; and while residing there, he acquired the reputation of a learned and able minister, and a very pure and logical writer.
In 1857, he was elected professor of theology in Union University, located at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and was, at the same time, called to the pastoral care of the church at that place. He continued to fill these positions till the War broke up the school, in 1861. The next year, he accepted the pastoral care of the church at Hamilton, Ohio. Here he did not succeed to his own satisfaction, and, at the end of a three year’s pastorate, resigned his charge. In 1865, he accepted a call to the church at Upland, Penn. To this congregation, he ministered, about 18 years, with much satisfaction, both to himself and the church. In the fall of 1883, he resigned this charge, and went to Nashville, Tennessee, to spend the winter.
Dr. Pendleton is a man of extraordinary industry. From 1838, to the present time, he has probably written more for the periodical press than any other man who has regularly filled the pastoral office; and, yet, he has never published an article that did not evince calm thought and mature deliberation. He was one of the editors of the Southern Baptist Review during the six years of its publication, at Nashville, Tenn. He was also co-editor of the Tennessee Baptist, a number
of years, during which time it attained the largest circulation of any Baptist weekly in the world. In addition to his contributions to the periodicals of the times, he has published a number of books and pamphlets which have attracted popular attention. His first book was published, in 1853, under the title of "Three Reasons Why I am a Baptist." This was followed by a volume of sermons, published in 1858. In 1868, he published a "Church Manual." The next year his work on "The Atonement of Christ," issued from the press. His largest work, titled "A Compendium of Theology," was written, in 1877.
Robert W. Thomas was one of the most attractive and eloquent preachers that have lived in the Green River country. He was raised up to the ministry, and spent about twenty years among the churches of Liberty, and the surrounding associations. Liberty Hill church, in Edmonson county, licensed him to preach, about 1840, and ordained him to the ministry, two years later. In1850, he succeeded J.M. Pendleton in the moderatorship of Liberty Association, and filled that position five successive years. A number of churches had his pastoral labors, but he did not succeed so well in the pastoral office, as in some other branches of ministerial labor. He was a successful financial agent, and a shrewd and ready debater; but his great oratorical powers were most effective in the work of an evangelist, in which he labored abundantly, especially in the early years of his ministry. In later years, his influence was much curtailed by his irresistible inclination to take an active part in every popular contest of the time. He was among the first ministers, in his part of the State who mounted the rostrum in favor of temperance reform. His eloquence bore down all opposition, for the time; but the bitterness of his denunciation, and the keenness of his satire and sarcasm often inflamed the opposition, and thereby injured the cause he advocated. He did not hesitate to take the stump, during an exciting political campaign, and to denounce the party he opposed unsparingly. He was not unfrequently engaged in financial speculations of considerable magnitude, which he prosecuted with the same intensity, that he did whatever else he was engaged in. During the civil War, he moved to Arkansas, and, afterwards, to Texas, where he was still living, when last heard from.
Henry B. Wiggin was set apart to the ministry, at Glasgow, about the time Liberty Association was constituted, and was in the organization of that body. In 1843, he moved to Logan county, where he preached and taught school, some three or four years. He then moved within the bounds of Gasper River Association, where he spent about fifteen years, following the same occupations. He was pastor of the church at Rochester, on Green river, from 1861 to 1863. About the latter date, it is believed, he returned to New York, his native State. He was a man of fine culture, and was esteemed for his piety and usefulness.
Richard G. Doyle was born in North Carolina, Sep. 4, 1794. He was brought by his parents, to Kentucky, when he was about ten years of age, and grew to manhood, in what is now Edmonson county, He was married to Sally Garrison, April 3, 1817. His parents were Cumberland Presbyterians, and educated him, with the hope that he would be a minister of their church; but, on his making a profession of religion, under the ministry of Jacob Lock, he united with the Baptist church at Mt. Tabor in Barren county. He taught school a few sessions, and afterwards served his county as justice of the peace. In 1838, he was licensed to preach, at Cedar Spring church in Edmonson county, where also he was ordained to the ministry, in June, 1839, by Frederick Meredith and John M, Chaudoin. When the split occurred in Green River Association, Cedar Spring church adhered to the Antimissionaries. Mr. Doyle attempted to obtain a letter of dismission, but was refused, on the charge of having fraternized with Missionary preachers and allowed them to preach in his house. However, he finally succeeded in procuring a letter, with which he entered into the constitution of Little Hope church, which joined Liberty Association, in 1842. Of this church, he was pastor the remainder of his life on earth. He was also pastor of New Hope, Little Jordan and Cane Spring churches, at the time of his death, which occurred, about 1864. His last labor was the preaching of a sermon at the funeral of a Mrs. Slemmons. He closed his discourse and turned to sit down, when he suddenly dropped on the floor, and was immediately taken up a corpse. Mr. Doyle was a good, plain, zealous preacher, and his labors were much blessed. He was twice married, and raised eight daughters
and five sons, all of whom became Baptists.
James B. Evans was a preacher in this Association, a number of years. He was set apart to the ministry by the church, at Scottsville, in Allen county, not far from 1843. Being a practicing physician, he preached only occasionally. He is a man of good reading, and of an investigating mind; and is an orator of no mean powers. With a peculiarly, charming voice, an easy, graceful delivery, a vivid imagination, and a highly poetical temperament, he never failed to attract and please an audience. About 1854, he moved to Russellville, where he still continues to practice his profession, and preach as opportunity is afforded.
Amos W. Richardson was born of Methodist parents, in Hart county, Ky., Jan. 9, 1839. His parents being poor, his educational advantages, during his minority, were very meager. At the age of nineteen, he obtained a good hope in Christ; and was baptized into the fellowship of Boiling Spring church, in his native county, by the venerable William M. Brown, in September, 1858. Feeling impressed with the duty of preaching the gospel, he determined to procure such an education as would enable him to pursue that holy calling. Accordingly, he left the humble home of his parents, with two suits of home made jeans, the woof of which he had spun with his own hands, and thirty-five cents in his pocket, to accomplish his noble purpose, without assistance. He worked as a common laborer and went to school, alternately, until he was sufficiently advanced to teach a common school. After this he taught and attended school, alternate sessions, until he obtained a fair academic education, which he has continued to improve by application and study.
On the 22d of February, 1866, he was licensed to preach, by Pleasant Hill church, formerly called Green River, and now known as Lonoke, where also he was ordained to the ministry, by N. G. Terry and J. G. Hardy, Feb. 2, 1867. He was soon afterwards called to the care of the church that ordained him, and has served it eighteen years. He served Gilead church, in Hart county, fourteen years; Big Spring, in LaRue county, seven years; Salem, in Barren county, and several others, for shorter periods. He was married to Idaline T., daughter of deacon John S. Owen, Oct. 18, 1881, and settled near Rowletts,
in his native county. He is much esteemed as a pastor, and few preachers enjoy more fully the confidence and affection of the people among whom they labor.
There have been a number of other good, faithful preachers in this Association, of whose lives the author has no definite information.
Mount Pleasant Association
This small Antimissionary body, located in Henry and some of the surrounding counties, originated from a split in Sulphur Fork Association, at its meeting with East Fork church, in 1840. An account of the affair has been given in the history of that organization. Messengers from five churches, aggregating 275 members, drew off from Sulphur Fork Association, and organized under the style of that fraternity. But at its first regular meeting, which convened at Mt. Pleasant church in Henry county, in October of the same year, the name of the new organization was changed to "Mt. Pleasant Regular Baptist Association." The names of the churches which entered into the constitution, were Mt. Pleasant, Hillsboro and Sulphur Fork, in Henry county, and Providence and Union Spring, in Trimble. R. W. Ricketts was the only ordained preacher in the young fraternity, at the time of its organization.
This Association has enjoyed but a small share of prosperity. In 1843, it numbered seven churches with 351 members. This was the largest aggregate membership it has attained. In 1851 it numbered ten churches, but they aggregated only 273 members. From that time, it gradually declined. In 1879, it numbered 8 churches with 162 members. During 25 of the first 33 years of its existence, there were baptized for the fellowship of its churches, 101 persons.
Robert Wilson Ricketts was the most distinguished minister that has been connected with this Association. He
was born in Maryland, Aug. 23, 1794. His parents emigrated to Jessamine county, Ky., when he was about three years old. Here he was raised up, receiving a limited common school education, and learning the trade of a gunsmith, by which he ultimately acquired a handsome property. In 1815, he was married to Sally Williams Thomas, a grand-daughter of the distinguished Elder David Thomas of Virginia. He professed conversion, and was baptized into the fellowship of Friendship church in Clark county, by Wm. Rash, about 1823. In 1830, he moved to Henry county, and gave his membership to the church at Newcastle, where he was licensed to preach, in 1833, and ordained to the ministry, the following year. For some years he was active and zealous in exhorting and persuading sinners to repent and turn to the Lord, even leading his daughter forward for prayer, during a protracted meeting at Newcastle. In 1838, he moved his membership to Mt. Pleasantchurch in the same county, and thereby became connected with Sulphur Fork Association, of which he was chosen moderator, the same year. He also preached the introductory sermon before that body, three successive years. There was much excitement in the Association, on the subject of missions, during this period; and Mr. Ricketts, who had spent the first seven years of his christian life in one of the churches of Licking Association, took strong grounds against the benevolent institutions of the times. He was a good preacher, for that day, a man of strong convictions, and a bold, persistent executor of his purposes. With such fitting qualifications, he naturally became the leader of the Antimissionary party, in his Association. The result was a schism in the body, in 1840, and the organization of Mt. Pleasant Association, of which Mr. Ricketts was generally moderator, from its constitution, to the close of his pilgrimage. Of course, after his connection with this fraternity, which was Antinomian in doctrine, as well as Antimissionary in polity, his ministerial labors were of little value to the cause of Christ. He was called to give an account of his stewardship, Jan. 1, 1856.
Of his children, the late Dillard Ricketts of Indiana was a prominent rail road man, and a large capitalist, and Luther Ricketts of Henry county, Ky., is a prominent citizen and a good business man.
Bays Fork Association
The origin of this body is somewhat singular. Drakes Creek Association, from which it eminated, had become Antimissionary, and had withheld correspondence from Bethel Association, on account of its missionary sentiments. In 1838, Jesse L. Hickman was pastor of Trammels Fork, Bethel and Rocky Spring churches, all in Drakes Creek Association. Some time during that year, O. H. Morrow, a minister of Bethel Association, visited Mr. Hickman at Bethel, and, while there, aided him in the administration of the Lord's Supper. This affiliation with a Missionary association, by Mr. Hickman and Bethel church, was soon noised abroad, and caused considerable excitement, especially along the Tennessee border, which was the field of the notorious Daniel Parker’s early labors. At its meeting of this year, Drakes Creek Association adopted a resolution, declaring that she would hold no connection with the Baptist State Convention, either directly or indirectly. Under cover of the resolution, a small minority of Trammels Fork church sent to the Association, in 1839, a remonstrance against the conduct of the majority, in retaining Jesse L. Hickman as pastor, after his disorderly proceeding in Bethel church had become known. The Association took up the remonstrance, and advised Bethel and Trammels Fork churches to report to the next Association, as to whether they had abandoned their disorderly course. These churches, together with Rocky Spring, failing to give satisfaction, weredropped from the Association, in 1840. Correspondence with Barren River Association was dropped, and the minority of Trammels Fork was recognized as the true church. Rocky Spring, Bethel and Trammels Fork churches, regarding these proceedings, especially their exclusion, as illegal, united in calling a council from Liberty and Barren River Associations, to investigate the matter. The council decided that the three churches had not acted disorderly, and that they had a right to the original constitution and prerogatives of Drakes Creek Association. Accordingly they met, by their messengers, at
Rocky Spring meeting house in Warren county, in 1841, and, after a sermon by Zechariah Emerson, organized as "Drakes Creek Association of United Baptists." Younger Witherspoon was chosen Moderator, and J.W. Whitten Clerk. The Association numbered three churches with 307 members. The next year, it met at Trammels Fork in Allen county, and reported a gain of five to its aggregate membership. Its third meeting was held at Bethel, in Allen county, in 1843. Three additional churches were received, and the aggregate membership of the body was increased to 543. The fourth meeting was held at Hanging Fork in Barren county. Younger Witherspoon was still moderator. M.F. Ham preached the introductory sermon, for the first time. In 1845, the Association met at Rocky Spring again. It now numbered seven churches with 594 members. At this meeting, on motion of Stephen Claypool, it changed its name from Drakes Creek, to "Bays Fork Association."
At the time the Association was constituted, Younger Witherspoon was its only preacher. R. P. Brunson was ordained soon afterwards; but he lived only about two years after his ordination. M. F. Ham was ordained in 1843, and he and Mr. Witherspoon were, for a number of years, the only preachers in the Association. Isaac McMurry was ordained about 1848, and John G. Durham, not far from the same time. Four preachers, even in no larger a territory than that occupied by this fraternity, could illy cultivate the field. But they were earnest men, and devoted themselves to the work with great zeal and energy, and the Lord wonderfully blessed their labors, notwithstanding the strong Antinomian and Antimissionary opposition they had to contend with.
In the year 1848, a revival commenced within the bounds of this Association, and continued about three years, during which time the body increased from seven churches with 667 members, in 1847, to ten churches with 1,088 members in 1851. From that time to the beginning of the civil War, in 1861; the body enjoyed uninterrupted prosperity, and, at the last named date, numbered seventeen churches with 1,756 members. A considerable loss was sustained by the severance of the colored members from the churches, during and after the War; so that, notwithstanding the churches received 1,600 by baptism, between
1861 and 1876, the Association wanted twelve members of being as strong, numerically, at the latter date, as at the former. The increase in numbers, since 1876, has been quite rapid. In 1880, the body numbered twenty-one churches, aggregating 2,216 members, and, in 1882, twenty-three churches with 2,235 members. From its organization, in 1841, to its meeting in 1882, there were baptized for the fellowship of its churches, 4,040 persons.
Old Churches. Bethlehem, located three miles north of Scottsville, in Allen county, is the oldest church in this fraternity, and the oldest in Allen county, except a small Antinomian organization called Sulphur Spring, and located in the extreme south-western corner of the county. It was constituted, January 27, 1801, of the following persons: James Atwood and his wife, Margaret, William Strait and his wife, Dorcas, William Thomas and his wife, Mary, Thomas Spillman and Polly Richey. It was probably gathered by Joseph Logan and John Hightower. It was, at first, called the Church on the head of Difficult, under which style it united with Green River Association, the same year it was constituted. At that time it numbered forty-eight members. The following year, it dismissed eight members, probably to go into the constitution of either Trammels Fork, or Lower Difficult, both of which churches were constituted that year. In 1802, it was represented in Green River Association by Elder Joseph Logan (probably its pastor), William Strait, and William Thomas, and reported a membership of eighty-eight, thirty-two of whom had been received by experience and baptism, and twenty-one by letter, during the year. The church continued to prosper, under the preaching of Joseph Logan, John Hightower, Alex. Devin, Alex. Davidson and Samuel Greathouse, till 1811, when Zachariah Emerson, who had just settled in the country, united with it, and became its pastor. The next year, it reported to the Association, 155 members. Meanwhile, it had assumed its present name. Mr. Emerson served it as pastor until 1845, when he resigned, and was succeeded by M. F. Ham, who has continued to serve it with great acceptance till the present time (1885). It remained a member of Green River Association, till 1830, when it entered into the constitution of Barren River Association. It joined Bays Fork Association, in 1875. Lower Difficult, probably the first off-spring
of Bethlehem, must have been located in the Stark Settlement, on the creek from which it takes its name, some eight or ten miles north of Scottsville. It was constituted, in 1802, and was represented in Green River Association, the same year, by Elder Lawrence Smith, J. McIntosh and Ahimas Spencer. It numbered, at that time, forty-six members. But nothing more is known of it or Elder Smith. It is probable that the latter soon died or moved away, and that the church was dissolved.
Trammels Fork Church, located some six miles west of Scottsville, was constituted, in 1802, and was represented in Green River Association, the same year, by Elder John Hightower, Nicholas Darnall and John Williams. At that time, it numbered seventy members. Mr. Hightower was probably its first pastor, as well as the chief instrument in gathering it. He was succeeded by John Howard, who served it with much acceptance a number of years, when he moved to Illinois. Jesse L. Hickman was the next pastor, and continued his labors, till about 1840, when he was succeeded by Younger Witherspoon. In 1843, M. F. Ham was ordained to the ministry by this church, and immediately became its pastor, in which capacity he has served till the present time. This is one of the sixteen churches that entered into the constitution of Gasper River Association, in 1812, one of the thirteen that formed Drakes Creek Association, in 1820, and one of the three that organized Bays Fork Association, in 1841.
Bethel Church, at first called New Bethel, is located seven or eight miles north of Scottsville, in Allen county. It was constituted, or, perhaps, reorganized of a portion of the membership that had composed Lower Difficult church, in 1820. With a membership of seventeen, and Samuel Hinton as its messenger, it united with Gasper River Association the same year. In October, 1820, it entered into the organization of Drakes Creek Association. Jesse L. Hickman was probably its first pastor, and served it with good success, till about 1839. Younger Witherspoon succeeded him, and served the church acceptably a number of years, when he was succeeded by M. F. Ham, who has continued to minister to it till the present time. For a number of years previous to the War it was a large and wealthy body, and had a great many colored members.
The Starks and Searses were among its most prominent members.
Rocky Spring church resulted from a split in old Bays Fork church, which dated back to near the beginning of the century. The split was caused by the imprudent conduct of Samuel Greathouse, the pastor. The party that adhered to Mr. Greathouse soon became extinct, and its leader fell into disgrace. Rocky Spring church is located in Warren county, about ten miles east of Bowling Green. Jesse L. Hickman was its pastor from about the time of its organization, till 1839, when he was succeeded by Younger Witherspoon, who had been raised up to the ministry in its membership. Mr. Witherspoon served it about thirty years, with good acceptance. The Claypools were among the most prominent members of this church, and to the wisdom, zeal and prudence of Stephen Claypool and his son Elijah it owed much of its prosperity.
Hanging Fork church in Barren county was gathered by Zechariah Emerson, and was long served by that zealous and useful man of God, Younger Witherspoon. It was first a member of Barren River Association, but joined Bays Forks, in 1844. It has generally been a prosperous community. Most of the remaining churches of this fraternity have been raised up by its own ministers, and are comparatively young.
Jesse Lee Hickman was a active, zealous and very successful within the present bounds of Bays Fork Association, about twenty-five years, and was insome sense the originator of that fraternity, although he was not permitted to enter into its constitution. He was of German extraction, and was born of Methodist parents, in Saulsbury, N.C., in 1786. His parents emigrated to Kentucky, the same year, and settled in Bourbon county. Here he was brought up, receiving such an education as enabled him to read, write and cipher a little. In early life he adopted Tom. Paine’s system of infidelity, and, in his seventeenth year, left his parents, and made his way to Warren county, where he engaged in teaching school. In his nineteenth year, he married Mary Ann Griffin, and afterwards settled in Allen county.
In 1810, a series of earthquakes commenced in the Mississippi Valley, and frequently recurred with great violence, for two or three years. Many people regarded the fearful phenomona
as the threatenings of divine vengance against them, for their great wickedness. Among these was the infidel Hickman, who was so deeply convicted of his sins, that some of his friends feared he would die of remorse. But after several months, he obtained a joyous hope in Christ, and was baptized into the fellowship of Bethlehem church in Allen county, in 1811, by Zechariah Emerson. After a few months, he was licensed to exercise his gift, and, within a year or two, was ordained to the ministry, by Zechariah Emerson, Augustine Clayton and Samuel Greathouse.
Mr. Hickman was a man of warm, emotional nature, and manifested much zeal and energy in his holy calling. Large success attended his labors, and many were led to Christ through his efforts. He became pastor of the churches at Trammels Fork, Bethel and Salem (now extinct), in Allen county, and Rocky Spring in Warren. During many years, he ministered to these churches with excellent success, and gained the confidence and affection of the; people, in an eminent degree. But, alas, for the weakness of human nature! After preaching with tireless zeal, in winter's cold and summer's heat, without compensation, for more than a quarter of a century, he was tempted into the sin of adultery, by a member of his charge. When accused of the crime, he made a full confession of his guilt, and then added: "The Devil persuaded me that I could make a strong fight on a denial of the charge, but I could not add to this crime, the sin of lying before God." He was excluded from the church, about 1840, and the remainder of his days was passed under a dark cloud of remorse and shame. After a few years, he was restored to the church, but not to the ministry. He died, at his home in Allen county, March 23, 1850.
John W. Hickman, nephew of the above, was born in Simpson county, Kentucky, in 1819. His parents were Methodists, and brought him up in their church. He received a very limited education, but was endowed by nature with extraordinary gifts. In early life, he made a profession of religion, and united with Sulphur Fork Baptist church, being immersed by O.H. Morrow. He was licensed to preach, when quite young, and immediately entered upon the duties of his holy calling with burning zeal. Having moved his membership to Harmony
church in Allen county, he was there ordained to the ministry, in May, 1849, by George Butler, M. F. Ham and Joseph Skaggs. From Allen county, he moved to Macon county, Tennessee, a little before his ordination, and gave his membership to Spring Creek church. Here he continued to preach with unabated zeal and success. He was a brilliant natural orator, and gave promise of great usefulness. But he had wrought only a brief morning hour, when the Lord was pleased to call him to his reward. He died, greatly lamented, in 1850.
Younger Witherspoon is the senior minister of Bays Fork Association, and was the only ordained minister that entered into its constitution. He is a native of Wake county, N. C., and was born, July 14, 1803. In 1809, his parents emgrated to Kentucky, and settled in what is now Allen county. Here he grew up to manhood with barely enough education to enable him to read and write. He was a wild, frolicsome young man, and was excessively fond of the rude amusements of the time. About 1827, he married Martha, daughter of Elder Samuel Greathouse, and settled in Warren county. Here he professed conversion, under the preaching of Thomas Scrivner, by whom he was baptized into the fellowship of Rocky Spring church, in 1836. His conversion was a very happy one, and he immediately commenced exhorting with great zeal, and good effect. He was ordained to the ministry, by Thomas Scrivner, August 24, 1839. He soon afterwards succeeded Jesse L. Hickman in the pastoral care of Bethel and Trammels Fork churches, in Allen county, and Rocky Spring, in Warren. To the last named church, he ministered 30 years; to Bethel, 14 years, and to Trammels Fork, 6 years. He also served Bethlehem in Allen county, in connection with the venerable Zechariah Emerson, a short time, and Hanging Fork in Barren county, many years. He was the principal instrument in gathering Bethany, Drakes Creek, and Friendship churches, in Warren county, and Liberty, and Big Spring, in Allen, to all of which he ministered, during longer or shorter periods. In 1873, he went to Woodland, California, where he gathered a church, to which he ministered, until his return to Kentucky, the following year.
In addition to his very successful pastoral ministrations, he has labored much, and with equal success, among the destitute,
and in numerous protracted meetings. At the age of more than four score years, the venerable man of God is still doing good service in the Master’s vineyard.
Mordecai F. Ham has been a leading minister in Bays Fork Association, from near the time of its constitution. He was born in Allen county, Kentucky, April 30, 1816, and has thus far resided within its limits. He received a meagercommon school education, in his youth. But possessing a good natural intellect and a grave, thoughtful disposition, he has applied himself to study, as opportunity has afforded, till he has acquired great familiarity with the English Bible, an extensive stock of useful general knowledge, a liberal reading in church history, and some acquaintance with the Greek language. He professed conversion, and united with Trammels Fork church, in 1838, being baptized by Jesse L. Hickman. After exercising in the prayer meeting, a few times, he was licensed to preach, January j, 1842, and was ordained to the ministry, April, 1, 1843, by Younger Witherspoon, R.P. Brunson, J.B. Evans, and W.F. Spillman. Soon after his ordination, he was called to the care of Bethlehem church, to which he has continued to minister to the present time -- a period of more than 40 years. He has served Trammels Fork, nearly as long, and Scottsville and Bethel churches, more than a quarter of a century. During the Civil War, and for some years after, he was pastor of six churches, preaching to two of them on week days. He has enjoyed a high degree of success in his pastoral charges. It would be safe to say that more than 2,000 persons have been brought into the churches he has served, under his ministry.
In addition to his pastoral labors, he has performed much work among the destitute, and the weak, pastorless churches. Indeed, all the churches in his Association, and the broad mission field within its limits, have shared his labors, his prayers and his tears. He seems to have left nothing undone that his perpetually serious thought could suggest, and the means within his power accomplish, to advance the cause of Christ. At the cost of no small percent of his little estate, he has collected a library of rare and costly works, for the special benefit of young preachers. At the age of nearly three score years and ten, he is still laboring with increasing zeal and industry, preaching to four churches, visiting mission stations, and instructing
the churches of his Association on special subjects of practical utility.
Tobias J. Ham, only son of the above, was ordained to the ministry by Trammels Fork church, in 1876, and has, generally, been pastor of four churches, since. He is regarded a good preacher, and is said to be worthily following the foot steps of his father. He received a fair education, having spent some time at Bethel College, after his early marriage to the amiable Ollie McElroy. The churches are looking to him to fill the place of his venerated father, when that consecrated man of God shall lay down his armor at the brink of Jordan.
Richard Parks Brunson was the first preacher ordained in Bays Fork Association. He was a son of Jonathan Brunson, a small farmer and miller of Allen county, and was ordained to the ministry by Bethel church, about 1841. Being a cripple, and of a feeble constitution, he adopted the trade of a tailor.On being ordained, he took the pastoral care of Salem church in Barren county, to which he had been previously called. To this congregation he ministered only one year. He possessed very moderate preaching gifts, but was esteemed for his piety and devotion. After preaching a year or two, he was called to his reward.
John G. Durham, a native of Allen county, was among the early laborers in Bays Fork Association. He was ordained by Trammels Fork church, about 1848, and was a very zealous and active laborer, for a number of years, within the bounds of Bays Fork and Barren River Association. He was well adapted to the work of a missionary, and was very useful as a laborer among the destitute. He was also an acceptable pastor of several churches, at different periods. After the close of the War, he moved to Bowling Green, and engaged in merchandising, since which time he has not been so useful in the ministry. He still continues to preach occasionally.
Isaac McMurry, a son of James McMurry, a prominent Baptist of Allen county, was several years a minister in Bays Fork Association. He was fairly educated, acquired a good knowledge of books, and was esteemed for his piety and upright life. What church he first joined, does not appear; but, about 1842, he gave his membership to Rocky Spring church in Warren county. Here an attempt was made to ordain him to the
ministry. But the presbytery called for that purpose, deemed him unsound in doctrine, and refused to lay hands on him. However, he continued to labor as a licensed preacher, and, with the aid of his pastor, Younger Witherspoon, raised up Big Spring church, in Allen county. To this congregation he gave his membership, and was soon afterwards ordained to its pastoral care. He was also called to the care of some other churches in that vicinity. About the beginning of the War, he moved to Logan county, from whence, after a year or two, he moved farther west, and settled within the bounds of Little River Association. Here he labored in the ministry, about ten years. In 1875, he moved to Texas, where he still resides.
Henry Ray was born of poor parents, in the State of Mississippi, about 1833. In youth he professed conversion, and united with a Baptist church. He was at once deeply impressed with a sense of duty to preach the gospel; and, believing himself called of God to that work, he resolved to prepare himself for the solemn responsibility. In 1855, he came to Kentucky, and, although a stranger and destitute of money, entered Georgetown College. Using the strictest economy, teaching school during vacation, and borrowing some small sums of money from his brother, he remained in college, till June, 1858, when he graduated with the second honors of his class. He was soon afterwards called to the church at Maysville, Ky., where he labored acceptably, till the fall of 1860. He then returned to his native State, where he soon afterwardsmarried. During the War, he preached at various points in the Southern States. In 1865, he returned to Kentucky, and took charge of the church at Bowling Green. This church had suffered greatly during the War, and was in a sad state of confusion. Mr. Ray went diligently and prayerfully to work, and before the first of June of the following year, the scattered and dispirited membership had been collected, the schisms healed, and about fifty members had been received by Baptism. But the model young pastor had now finished his work. While attending the Southern Baptist Convention at Russellville, about the last of May, 1866, he was attacked by billious fever. He returned home, and after about a week of great physical suffering, he went to receive his eternal reward.
John Mitchell Billingsly united with Union church in
Warren county, under the ministry of O.H. Morrow. He was licensed to preach, in 1849, and ordained, about 1851. About 1856, he moved to Allen county, and united with Harmony church. He was well informed, possessed fair preaching gifts, and was a ready and pointed writer. But his fondness for controversy, his radical temper, and his bitter denunciation and sarcasm, rendered him unpopular, and prevented his being as useful as he might otherwise have been. When the civil War broke out, he was commissioned captain of a company of home guards. In this position he is said to have been very tyrannical, and to have deported himself, otherwise, in a manner unbecoming a christian. After the War, he was, with considerable difficulty, nominally restored to the fellowship of his church. Soon after this, he moved to Illinois, where it is hoped that age and experience have sobered down his fiery passions, and rendered his fine capabilites useful to the cause of Christ.
John F. South was for many years a Methodist preacher, and was honored with the title of Doctor of Divinity. About 1857, he united with Providence Baptist church in Warren county, and was baptized by J. M. Pendleton. He was soon afterwards ordained to the ministry, according to Baptist usage. Being a man of superior ability, of large experience, and high social connections, much was hoped from his ministerial labors. But his preaching, though able and eloquent, was unbaptistic, and he failed to secure the confidence of the denomination. After a few years, evil reports concerning his morals, began to be freely circulated, and his influence, as a minister, was greatly impaired. He then turned his attention to politics, and edited a political paper, and, at one time, was a candidate for Congress. But he succeeded as illy in his political aspirations, as in the ministry. He remained a member of Bowling Green church, and preached occasionally, till near the close of his life. But a cloud of suspicion rested upon him, and he died at the mid afternoon of manhood.
Joseph Skaggs was a good, humble man, of moderate ability, but of devoted piety. He was licensed to preach, by Union church in Warren county, about 1841, and was ordained, a year or two afterwards. Soon after his ordination, with the aid of George Butler and O.H. Morrow, he gathered Harmony church in Allen county. To this congregation, and perhaps to
some others, he ministered a few years. He died of lung disease, about 1855.
Salem Association of Predestinarian Baptists
This small body is located in Boone and some of the surrounding counties. It originated in a division of North Bend Association, produced, it is alleged, by the preaching of Thomas P. Dudley of Licking Association. Some of the churches of the old North Bend Association became dissatisfied with that body on account of its tolerating benevolent societies. As early as 1833, Forks of Gunpowder church inserted in her letter to the Association the following paragraph:
"Since our last, we have taken into consideration the propriety of our members uniting with, or having anything to do with the societies as follows, viz: Missionary Societies, Bible societies, tract societies, Sunday-school or temperance societies, State convention, American Bible Society. After the matter was taken up, and some investigation had on the subject, the church agreed that her members should have no connection with said societies. And we wish, also, the counsel of the Association to be given on that decision, and advise the churches accordingly. We have no difference of sentiment on that subject, with the exception of two of our members, who are friendly to the Bible society." To this the Association replied: "We are willing to leave the whole subject of those societies with the brethren who compose the churches, trusting that each one will act in that matter so as to have a conscience void of offense toward God, and that they will all bear with one another in love."
The answer of the Association was not satisfactory to the church, which desired an unqualified condemnation of all these societies; and the subject became a matter of contention in the Association, till the meeting of that body, in 1840, when it culminated in a division. In the fall of that year, Forks of Gunpowder, Crews Creek, Salem, Mud Lick, Bethel and FourMile churches withdrew from North Bend and organized themselves under the style of "Salem Association of Predestinarian
Baptists." The new fraternity adopted a Hyper-calvinistic creed, and expressed an unqualified opposition to all the benevolent societies of the day. Between the time of its constitution and the close of its meeting, in 1843, the following churches, or, rather, factions of churches, were added to its membership Brush Creek, Mt. Pleasant, Dry Creek, First Old School Baptist church at Covington, and Little Hope. The ordained ministers of the body were Lewis Conner, William Hume, James Finnell, William Gosney and William S. Hickey. The licensed preachers were Buford Rice, R. Stephenson, P. Roberts and Alfred Gosney.
In 1846, the Association attained a membership of thirteen churches with 388 members. From this time it gradually withered, till 1879, when it reported five churches, aggregating only sixty-five members. Whether it continues to meet, or not, the author is not informed. During the twenty-nine years of which we have statistics of this fraternity, there were baptized for the fellowship of its churches seventy-one persons.
Lewis Conner was the most prominent preacher in this body. He was probably a native of Virginia, but settled in Boone county, at a very early period. Here he was converted during the great revival of 1801, and united with Bullittsburg church. In 1804, he went into the constitution of Mud Lick church, and afterwards became a member of Forks of Gunpowder, in which church he was an ordained minister as early as 1822. He appears to have been a good and useful preacher among the churches of North Bend Association, until the difficulty about missions arose in that body. In 1840, he entered with his church into the constitution of Salem Association of Predestinarian Baptists, and was moderator of that body, from its organization, till 1857. At this date, he was quite old, and it is probable that he soon afterwards went to his reward.
Tates Creek Association of Predestinarian Baptists
Of this small community, the author has been able to obtain very little information. Like other fraternities of its order, it rose out of the contention in the denomination on the subject
of missions, but at an earlier period than most of the others. It is located in Madison and some of the adjoining counties, and its churches intermingle with those of Tates Creek Association of Missionary Baptists, from which it originated. In 1830, not long after its constitution, it numbered five churches, aggregating 159 members. The names of the churches were Tates Creek, Mt. Nebo, Gilead, Bethel and Liberty. The ordained ministers were Joel Morehead, Thomas Wolverton, Daniel Duff and Samuel Jones. The body had a very slow growth. In 1843, it numbered only seven churches with 250 members. After this, there was no great change in its numerical strength till after the close of the civil War. About 1867, a slight revival began among its churches, and continued to prevail several years. The first year of the revival, its churches reported forty baptisms, and, in 1869, fifty-six baptisms. At the latter date, it numbered eleven churches with 456 members. But soon after this, it began to decline again, and, in 1880, it numbered ten churches with only 260 members.
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.
Orignial Barren River Association of United Baptists
This small Antimissionary fraternity originated in a second split in Barren River Association. In 1840, that body passed the following:
"Resolved, by this Association, That joining any of the benevolent societies of the day or contributing to its funds, or refusing either to join or contribute, shall not be made a bar to union and fellowship; but that all shall, in this matter, be left to exercise their own free will.” There was a considerable Antimissionary element in the Association, and the adoption of this resolution caused much discontent, and no small degree of excitement, among the churches. In 1841, a remonstrance against
the resolution came up to the Association from Dripping Spring church. This brought the subject again before the body. A motion was made to rescind the resolution. After a protracted and exciting debate, the motion was put to the Association. The vote stood 24 against 24. The moderator, Thomas Scrivner, gave the casting vote against the motion. The Antimissionaries had exerted their full strength, and now felt that they were finally defeated. As soon, therefore, as the result of the vote was announced, they withdrew from the house, under the leadership of Elder Seth Bradshaw. During the same fall, messengers from the dissenting churches met at Concord meeting house in Barren county, and organized what they styled the "Original Barren River Asociation of United Baptists." At its first regular meeting, which met at Mt. Pleasant meeting house, in the same county, on the fourth Saturday in July, 1842, four churches, aggregating 172 members, were represented. The names of the churches were Dripping Spring, Doughtys Creek, Zoar and Mt. Pleasant. The next year, Concord, Glovers Creek, and Skaggs Creek were added, and the aggregate membership was increased to three hundred and twenty-seven, Zoar having been dissolved. The ministers of the body were Seth Bradshaw, Ben. Bailey, and John Clark.
This Association agrees, in doctrine, with the Baptist denomination generally, but is opposed to all societies, organized for the spread of the gospel. Like Green River, Stocktons Valey, South Concord, and several other associations in the State, it claims to be missionary, but opposes all the means by which missions can be efficiently promoted. It alleges that a local church is the only religious institution which has divine sanction, forgetting that its members meet annually in an association to transact business for the glory of God.
The body had a slow and irregular growth, till 1856, when it numbered 12 churches with 484 members. In 1858, a revival commenced among the churches and a considerable increase resulted: So that, the next year it numbered 15 churches with 679 members. This is the largest membership it has yet attained. During the next decade, it was reduced to 9 churches with 341 members. Since that time, it has had a small increase. When last heard from, in 1879, it numbered twelve churches with four hundred and forty-two members. We have
its statistics for 23 years, during which its churches reported 507 baptisms.
This fraternity has been very well supplied with preachers, as to numbers; but most of them have been men of very moderate gifts and attainments. Seth Bradshaw, of whom something has been said elsewhere, was among the ablest of its early ministers.
Thomas Dodson was, for a number of years, one of the most highly esteemed ministers in this fraternity. He was of a large and respectable old Baptist family, of his name, in Wayne county, Ky., where he was born, Oct. 12, 1804. He was raised on a farm, and received a limited common school education. At the age of 18, he professed religion and united with Big Sinking church in his native county. In 1828, he was married to Martha Hurt, after which he moved to Russell county, where he united with Mt. Pleasant church. Here he was ordained to the ministry, Dec. 4, 1847, by Wm. Smith, Moses Wilson, Thomas Wilson, and Josiah Stephens. In this region, he preached, with constantly increasing usefulness, about 12 years. In December, 1859, he moved to Barren county, and became a member and the pastor of Poplar Spring church. To this and some other congregations, he ministered, about twenty years when he resigned on account of the encroachments of old age. Up to about the year 1870, he was identified with the Antimissionary Baptists, among whom he had been raised up. But, at that date, having changed his views, he, with Poplar Spring church, united with Liberty Association, after which he was a warm friend of missions. He finished his course with joy, July 10, 1881. Of his seven surviving children, six are Baptists, one of whom is a humble minister of the gospel.
Ephraim Burtram is among the most prominent preachers in this body. He is of a numerous and reputable family, of his name, in Wayne county, where he was raised up to the ministry, in Pleasant Hill church. After preaching, several years, among the churches of South Concord Association, he moved to Barren county, and settled a few miles south of Glasgow, not far from the year 1854. Here he united with Mt. Pleasant church, and thus became identified with Original Barren River Association, which is of the same faith and order of South Concord. Among the churches of this fraternity, he has been an
active laborer, about thirty years, and is held in high esteem by his brethren and the people generally, among whom he preaches.
[ J. H. Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists,Volume II, 1885, pp. 503-546. -- jrd]
Go to next section
Go to Spencer History, Volume 1
Return to Kentucky Baptist Church Histories
Return to American Church Histories
Return to HOME Page