Thomas Ammon was another pioneer preacher, who came to Kentucky from Virginia, where he was active in the ministry. The evidence is that he was a wicked youth, but experienced a remarkable conversion, and became a member of the Crooked Run Baptist Church in Culpeper County, and was later raised up for the ministry in that church. At the time Thomas Ammon began to preach, the established church in Virginia was persecuting Baptists for preaching the gospel "contrary to law". John Taylor says: "He began to preach in the time of hot persecution in Virginia,
and was honored as many others were, with a place in Culpeper prison for a testimony of his divine Master".
While Thomas Ammon was in prison, the tradition in the family is "that he preached through the windows of the prison to crowds, and that his voice was so strong that he could be heard for a mile in the open air, either preaching or singing". He was released from prison and after the close of the Revolutionary War, came to Kentucky, but it is difficult to determine the time of his arrival. Thomas Ammon was probably the first and only pastor of the Hickmans Creek Separate Baptist Church, in Fayette County, which was organized about 1790, and he was listed among its members, as an ordained minister. John Taylor states that he labored with Thomas Ammon in Kentucky as well as in Virginia; and also speaks of a young mother becoming "alarmed of her awful sins", because of the preaching of Thomas Ammon at Clear Creek Church, where John Taylor was pastor.
The Minutes of the Elkhorn Association for the session beginning May 30, 1789 indicates that Thomas Ammon was a messenger to the Association from South Elkhorn Church. Also in the Minutes of the Elkhorn Association for 1803, 1805-1808, Thomas Ammon was listed as an ordained minister in Brushy Fork Church, and a messenger to the Association.
This this old pioneer preacher was connected with the early Baptist work in Kentucky. His death occurred about 1811, and he was buried near Millersburg, in Bourbon County, but the place of his burial has not been located. The estate of Thomas Ammon, amounting to $4,393.50, was settled February 16, 1815. Elizabeth Ammon, his wife, was living and received a child's share of the estate. Of the nine daughters, the one named Fannie will be connected with future Kentucky Baptist history.
Thomas Ammon owned a watch, made in London, which he carried, while in Culpeper jail before the Revolutionary War. This watch came into the possession of John Holliday, a grandson of Thomas Ammon, and a son of William Holliday and Fannie Ammon Holliday. John Holliday was born April 4, 1797, was converted in 1828, united with the Millersburg Baptist Church, where he was ordained the following year, and became pastor and served thirty years. He spent most of his active ministry in Bracken and Union Associations; and continued active in the work until 1876, nearly fifty years. This old preacher came to the close of life destitute, and in want. A well-known preacher, J. M. Bent, visited him and called attention to his destitute condition in the Western Recorder, October 13, 1881, in which he stated "He is the grandson of one, who went to prison for his faith".
After John Holliday's death on October 9, 1881, at Millersburg, J. M. Bent gave a sketch of his life in the Western Recorder, November 24, 1881, and refers to his visit to the old preacher mentioned above as follows: "At this visit there was hanging on the wall the watch, that he had carried for years, which had been the property of his grandfather Ammon, which he wore in jail. What a Baptist relic is that watch, linking the present with
the past". This watch was finally in possession of Mr. James Robert Bullock, Louisville, Kentucky, a grandson of John Holliday. On October 12, 1944, this same watch was presented to Dr. Ellis A. Fuller, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary by Dr. James A. Stewart, pastor of the Broadway Baptist Church, where Mr. Bullock was a member. This old historic watch was placed in the museum of the Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.1
The number has been changed from the original document.
1 Crismon, Leo T., Thomas Ammon, an Address delivered in Chapel at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Friday, February 23, 1945, p. 1-5.
[From Frank Masters, A History of Baptists in Kentucky, 1953, pp. 21-23. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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