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History of Sand Run Baptist Church
Boone County, Kentucky
by R. E. Kirtley, 1876

     Sand Run Church was constituted on the 20th of March, 1819, with seventy-eight members, fifty-five white and twenty-three colored. Among the prominent members in the organization were Chichester Matthews, and William Montague, ordained ministers; Lewis Webb, the former clerk of Bullittsburg; Cave Johnson, Jeremiah Kirtley, Cave Montague, William N. McCoy, Beverly R. Ward, Benjamin Mitchell, Andrew Brockman, William Gaines, Benjamin Dulaney, Elijah W. Dulaney and others. Among those received by letter during the years 1819 and 1820 were Benjamin Watts, James Gilmore, a licensed preacher, Daniel Beal, Thomas Whitaker, Joseph Graves, William Whitaker, John Whitaker, Mark Whitaker, Landen Robinson, a licensed preacher, and Jas. Dollens. It was a strong church at its constitution, and its strength was much increased by men of influence added by letter.

     The church soon after her organization, chose Chichester Matthews, William Montague and James Gilmore to act alternately as Moderators. Thomas Whitaker was afterward added to this number as a presiding officer. Lewis Webb was chosen Clerk. William N. McCoy and Cave Montague were chosen and ordained Deacons. William N. McCoy and Andrew Brockman were appointed Singing Clerks.

     At the June meeting following the constitution, the church appointed William Montague, Cave Johnson, William N. McCoy, Elijah W. Dulaney and Beverly R. Ward as Trustees, with instructions to purchase a suitable lot of land on which to erect a meeting-house, and proceed in the work of building.

     In September she [the church] sought admittance into the North Bend Association. At the November meeting a committee was appointed to ascertain the probable cost of their new building. The committee reported, at the December meeting, the probable cost to be $2,100. One thousand dollars had been provided for by subscription; $1,100 was unprovided for. On motion of Brother Matthews, Cave Montague, B. R. Ward, Benjamin Watts and Lewis Webb were appointed a committee to apportion the $1,100 on the free male members of the church, which was done by dividing these members into classes, according to their ability to pay. The first class was to pay $76 each; the second class $56 each; the third class $35 each; the fourth class $18 each; the fifth class $11 each. Beverly R. Ward was appointed to collect from the brethren that paid in money, and William N. McCoy was appointed to collect from brethren that paid in tobacco.

     On Sunday, the 20th of February, 1820, one month less than a year from constitution, they worshiped in their new house, though unfinished and without stoves. Previous to this they worshiped in private homes.

     At the August meeting, a day of fasting and prayer was appointed, and Thomas Whitaker and Lewis Webb were appointed Assistant Singing Clerks. In October, Mr. Davis Carneal, of Cincinnati and Col. Cave Johnson each presented the church with a stove for warming the house, which stoves remain for that purpose to this day.

     Lewis Webb resigned his office as Church Clerk, and Benjamin Watts was chosen to fill his place.

     During the early history of this young church, her discipline both formative and corrective, was most excellent. She sought out and brought into active exercise the gifts of her members. Men of business capacity were appointed to attend to business. Men that could sing were called on to exercise their gifts. Men that could talk to edification and comfort were encouraged in that work. Barnabas, a colored member, was not overlooked in this work of bringing all the tithes into the store-house of the Lord. He was encouraged to exercise his gifts, to edification and profit of the colored members.

     The leading and influential members of this church had such a profound regard for the authority of Jesus Christ, the laws of His Kingdom, the good of His cause and the honor of His name, that no disorderly living found favor in their sight. Their disapprobation was continual and prompt against all things that reproached the cause or dishonored the King in Zion. It will not be amiss to mention items that were subjects of corrective discipline: Lying; Sabbath breaking; husband and wife quarreling; drunkenness; fighting; leaving sureties to pay security debts; not providing to pay just debts; not paying assessments; absenting from the meetings of the church, and slander. Colored members were dealt with who refused to take their seats in the new house because they were provided for them in the gallery. Letters given to members who had been absent from the church and neighborhood were guarded in their recommendations. Public worship commenced at 11:00 o'clock in the summer, and 11:30 in the winter.

     Closing the first period with March, 1823, giving four years' existence to the church she had received by letter 35; by baptism 1; restored 2; dismissed by letter 8; excluded 5; deaths unrecorded and not known; total number near 100. During this period five days had been appointed for fasting and prayer. At this time the church had two ordained ministers, Matthews and Montague; three licentiates, Gilmore, Robinson and William Whitaker; two Deacons and four Singing Clerks. From the records of this church it has been impossible to give the whole number of the membership at any of the periods ____ we record the _____. The reason is, for seventeen years the deaths of her members, with one exception, were not recorded. And many members, especially colored, passed from view without proper mention and record.

     SECOND PERIOD - In August, 1823, Benjamin Watts resigned as Church Clerk, and Lewis Webb was reappointed to that office. Beverly Ward, an active and useful member, obtained letters for himself and his wife to move to other parts.

     The first half of the year 1824 was a period of special blessings to Sand Run Church. Seventeen were added to her membership by experience and baptism. Among that number were Owen Kirtley, John Montague, John Kirtley, Virginia Webb and Sally McCoy. On Sunday, the 25th of April, Landen Robinson was ordained to the work of the Gospel ministry, Matthews, Wilson and Dicken forming the Presbytery.

     In November following, a motion was introduced by Thomas Whitaker, and adopted by the church, to hold meetings on the Sabbaths following the second Saturday in each month. It would appear from the record that monthly meetings only had been of regular appointment.

     On the death of Absalom Graves, James Dicken and Landen Robinson, which occurred in 1826, the North Bend Association realized so deeply the general bereavement that she requested the churches to observe a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer for the divine blessing, which was done by Sand Run Church on the first Thursday in October following. In this same month Caty McDaniel was received for baptism, who proved to be a most excellent member, for her piety shone in all her walks of life. On the 29th of this month William Whitaker was ordained to the work of the Gospel ministry, Robert Kirtley, Lewis Conner and William Montague forming the Presbytery.

     Chichester Matthews died September 7th, 1828 - the first death recorded in the minutes of the church proceedings to this date. A memoir of his life was prepared by Lewis Webb and Benjamin Watts, and recorded in the church book. His biography was written by James A. Kirtley, and published in connection with the biographies of Absalom Graves, James Dicken and Robert Kirtley.

     In 1829 the church sustained further loss by granting letters of dismission to James Gilmore, licensed preacher, and Daniel Beal, a man of exemplary piety. But soon after this she received by letter James Terrill and Demus Moss, an ordained minister. Moss remained for only a few months and removed.

     From March, 1828 to January, 1830, the church had received by letter 5; restored 3; received by baptism 19; dismissed by letter 24; excluded 12; deaths unrecorded; total number, probably between 80 and 85.

     THIRD PERIOD - Commencing the third period with 1830, the church continues to decline. Benjamin Dulaney and others receive letter of dismission. William N. McCoy is released from the active duties of a Deacon.

     William Montague, who had been an ordained minister since June, 1817, laboring acceptably at Bullittsburg and at Sand Run from its organization, now became interested in the peculiar views of Alexander Campbell. The church heard him once and again in regard to his new proclivities, and after many questions and answers, supposed he had not declined from the faith of the Baptist[s], and expressed herself satisfied. He afterward obtained a letter of dismission from the church, and the records state he joined the Campbellites. The church considered his course disorderly, and withdrew fellowship from him.

     In March 1832, Judith Whitaker, second wife to William Whitaker, was received into the fellowship of the church by letter of recommendation from Mayslick [Baptist] Church. Benjamin Waller from Frankfort [Baptist] Church.

     In 1835 the church concluded to change her plan of raising money to defray church costs. Heretofore the Clerk and Deacons, by order of the church, had assessed the free male members a sum equal to the expenses, which had raised from seven to twelve dollars per year. The new plan was to raise the necessary amount by free donation. This plan lasted three years, when the church returned to her former plan.

     In April, 1836, the church resolved to report and record the death of her members as they occurred, and we find Joseph Graves died April 23rd, 1836. In August James Terrill, one of her useful and promising members obtained a letter of dismission to move West. In October, Jeremiah Kirtley, a man of wisdom and discretion, who had been a member of the church from its organization, obtained a letter of dismission to move to Lexington, Kentucky. James and William Dollins also obtained letters of dismission. So that the end of 1836 found the church much debilitated by the loss of her strong members.

     In 1838 there were some additions by baptism, among whom were Mary Ann Webb, E___ Hoshell, Angeline Dimick. William N. McCoy, one of the original members, a Deacon and prominent among the useful members died September 19th, 1838.

     During the ten years from January, 1830 to January, 1840, the church received by letter 10; restored 2; received by baptism 11; dismissed by letter 22; excluded 2; number of deaths not known; total members probably between 70 and 75.

     FOURTH PERIOD - In the fall of 1839 quite a revival spirit was awakened in the church at Bullittsburg, and a general religious interest felt in the community. During the winter and following spring Sand Run was much revived, and held meetings much oftener than usual. She was much refreshed and invigorated by the cultivation of piety, and receiving into her membership 18 by baptism. Among this number were Elizabeth Watts, Sally Goodridge, W. Henry Montague, Sally Montague, John W. Rogers, Walter Goodridge and others. But the current of her prosperity was soon changed by the combination of events which culminated at the Association held with her August, 1840. The forces under the leadership of Thomas P. Dudley were brought into action, and the constitution of a new church was determined on. Letters of dismission were granted to some members at the August meeting following the Association, and at the September meeting a petition was presented by others for the privilege of leaving Sand Run Church to go into the constitution of a new church. Sand Run deemed the movement unwise and impolitic, nevertheless granted the petition. Eight of her members thus removed to assist in constituting Mount Pleasant [Baptist] Church.

     In February, 1842, the deaths of Sisters Whitaker, Webb and Eldridge were reported to the church. In August of this year the North Bend Association held its annual session with Bullittsburg Church, at which time and place a revival of religion commenced, which sent its happy influences to all the surrounding churches. Sand Run shared in the spirit and fruits of this meeting. Nathaniel Green, Mary Ann Whitaker Thomas Whitaker and Matilda Kirtley were among the members added to Sand Run by baptism. John Kirtley, who had been excluded from the church for a number of years, was restored to her fellowship. In February, 1843, William Gaines was ordained to the office of Deacon.

     The church having been constituted on the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, with certain exceptions, and the membership being so little acquainted with this document, as thus modified, the church desired articles of faith more tangible and available for her members. Accordingly, in May 1844, a committee consisting of William Whitaker, Cave Montague, Lewis Webb and William Gaines, was appointed to prepare articles of faith and present them to the church for her consideration. In June they were presented, read and considered. In July they were re-read and adopted.

     Cave Montague died August 10th, 1845. He was baptized into the fellowship of Bullittsburg Church in 1811; entered in the organization of Sand Run Church in 1819; became one of her first deacons, and served the church in that capacity a quarter of a century, in an exemplary, orderly and useful life.

     James Huey and wife were received by letter into the fellowship of the church March, 1848. In August following he was ordained to the office of Deacon. In September he brought before the church for her consideration the propriety of remunerating their pastor, William Whitaker, for his labors in the ministry. In October, he was appointed to collect funds for that purpose, and report to the church at the end of each fiscal year. The first year he collected and paid to the pastor $31; the second $25.

     From January, 1840 to January 1850, received by letter 10; restored 1; received by baptism 32; dismissed by letter 23; excluded 3; died 16; total number probably between 70 and 75.

     FIFTH PERIOD - Cave Johnson died January 19th, 1850. He was born November 15th, 1769 in Orange County, Virginia. He came to Kentucky in April, 1779 and spent his first summer at Bryant Station. He was married in 1784 and settled near where Versailles of Woodford County now stands; moved to North Bend in (now) Boone County in 1796; was a member of Bullittsburg Church in 1799 and entered into the organization in 1819. He was a man of strong, vigorous intellect, with enlightened views of Christian character and enlarged views of Christian benevolence. He accepted Christianity as a religion suited to man as a race. He accepted its spirit of universal benevolence, and was a missionary in word and deed. He accepted in religion the practical idea that men ought to be qualified in head and heart for their life work, and hence was in the lead of his time for educating the ministry. He contributed $500 for the endowment of Georgetown College, under the President of Dr. Giddings. He labored and contributed for the endowment of a theological seminary in Covington, Kentucky. He considered it a privilege and pleasure to give for the enlargement and glory of the Kingdom of Christ.

     In 1850, the church inclosed [sic] her meeting-house yard and set out shade trees. William Gaines was released from acting as a Deacon in 1851.

     A most gracious revival was enjoyed by the churches in this vicinity in 1853. Sand Run shared in the common blessing. Her October meeting was protracted three weeks. Elder Robert Kirtley and James A. Kirtley labored in conjunction with the pastor during this meeting. Twenty-six were received by experience and baptism. E. H. Scothorn and S. Robinson Bradford were among this number. James Huey resigned his position as Collector and Treasurer of funds designed for the pastor, and William Gaines was appointed in his place. The contributions ranged from $16 to $82 per annum.

     In April, 1854, Lewis Webb was ordained to the office of Deacon. In September following, James Huey was dismissed by letter to move West.

     In 1855 the house was repaired with a new roof.

     In 1857 tombstones were erected by the church at the graves of Chichester Matthews and wife, as a token of special regard.

     Closing the decade with 1859, we have received by letter 5; by baptism; 34; dismissed by letter 12; excluded 8; died 11; total number ___.

     SIXTH PERIOD - In March, 1860, Owen Kirtley was ordained to the office of Deacon.

     Nathaniel Green died August 19th 1862.

     In March, 1864, F. German and wife were received into the membership of the church without letters of recommendation from the church in Missouri, to which they belonged, it having been dispersed by the war.

     The minutes from March, 1864 to March, 1866 are not recorded in the church book and are probably lost. Benjamin Terrill, a minister from Missouri, was a member for a short time in 1865.

     William Gaines died in November, 1866. He was a member of the church from its organization; became a Deacon in 1843. He was a useful business man in the church, and well esteemed by the brethren.

     Robert E. Kirtley and wife were received into the membership of the church in 1867, on letters of recommendation from Union [Baptist] Church in Saline County, Missouri. In November C. C. Graves and wife were received from Bullittsburg. In June, 1868, Thomas Whitaker was chosen Assistant Clerk by the request of the acting Clerk Lewis Webb, whose age and health prevented his regular attendance. He acted only a short time, and E. H. Scothorn was appointed. Mary Kirtley, wife of R. E. Kirtley, died June 17th, 1868. In October, Maltilda Wainscott, Jane McAfee and Jeremiah Estis were received for baptism.

     In January, 1869, Owen Kirtley and A. Robinson Bradford were appointed Trustees of the church.

     Closing the sixth period with 1869, we have received by letter 9; restored 1; received by baptism 6; dismissed by letter 7; excluded 2; died 9; total number __.

     SEVENTH PERIOD - Elizabeth Whitaker, wife of Elder William Whitaker, passed from us to her reward above April 11th, 1870. The church this year purchased a plot of ground and after fencing it, laid it off in lots for a cemetery. Lewis Webb, the last surviving member of the constitution, was called from earth to his reward above August 10th, 1870. He was Clerk of the church 48 years. He was a Deacon 16 years, and a Clerk of the North Bend Association 30 years.

     In the fall of 1870 the church built a new fence around the meeting-house lot, at a cost of $111.60.

     In July, 1871, Charles C. Graves was ordained to the office of Deacon. In August following John W. Whitaker was appointed Singing Clerk.

     Again the church was called to mourn the loss of one of her aged members. The pastor, William Whitaker, passed to his reward above August 12th, 1872. He was born in Scott County, Kentucky, March 25th, 1798. He was baptized into the fellowship of Bullittsburg Church January, 1811. He joined the Sand Run Church by letter July 1820. He was ordained to the work of the Gospel ministry in October, 1826. He labored in and for Sand Run Church during his ministerial life, being her pastor 40 years. His early ministry was not entirely confined to Sand Run Church, but he visited and labored in other churches.

     In October following the death of William Whitaker, Robert E. Kirtley was unanimously called to be pastor of the church, and has labored in that capacity until the present, part of the time once a month and part of the time twice a month. In February, 1875, Charles C. Graves and wife obtained letters of dismission to remove to the interior of the State.

     In May following the church adopted a form of letter by which to dismiss her members who desire letters, the purpose being to specify existing facts, change the relations of the parties, and place responsibilities in the future where they legitimately belong:

Form of Church Letter

     THIS IS TO CERTIFY, That our beloved Brother (or Sister)_____________ we recommend him (or her) to the brotherly love and Christian fellowship of any other church of like faith and order. Done by order of the church, &c.

     From January, 1870 to the present received by letter 4; received by baptism 1; dismissed by letter 4; excluded 1; died 4; total 28.


[From the North Bend Baptist Association Minutes, 1876, pp. 8-15. This document is from microfilm records at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY. Transcribed and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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